'Taken 2': Liam Neeson sequel messes with a good thing
A movie review of "Taken 2," a sequel starring Liam Neeson that recycles the basic situation of 2009's hit thriller: Foreign thugs menace a retired CIA operative's family and he kills them. Lazy, careless plotting sinks the whole enterprise.
Special to The Seattle Times
'Taken 2,' with Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Sherbedgia. Directed by Olivier Megaton, from a screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. 91 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence, language. Several theaters.
You do not mess with Liam Neeson's family.
You mess with Liam Neeson's family in the movies and ... well, let's let The Man himself set you straight as to your fate.
"I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."
He means it.
He left dozens of dead men strewn across Paris in 2009's "Taken" as proof of his lethal purposefulness. A bad-news dude, for sure.
"Taken" is a compact, relentless thriller. It made nearly $227 million worldwide and turned the 60-year-old Neeson into an action hero for the AARP set. That kind of success made a sequel inevitable. Bad idea. "Taken 2" is nothing more than a naked cash grab.
In "Taken," Neeson's character, Bryan Mills, a retired CIA operative possessing "a very particular set of skills," littered the landscape of the City of Light with the bodies of Albanian baddies who made the mistake of abducting his teenage daughter (Maggie Grace) to sell her as a sex slave.
In "Taken 2," Rade Sherbedgia, in the role of the daddy of one of those bumped-off baddies, vows vengeance and leads a hit team of stubbly thugs to Istanbul, where Neeson and his family are on a vacation. Much gunplay ensues. Car chases, too. Corpse cleanup on Aisle Two.
This time, it's Mills and his ex-wife, played by Famke Janssen, who are grabbed by Sherbedgia's goons and threatened with fates worse than death. Oh, and death as well. "Your death will not be quick. It will not be pleasant," Sherbedgia rasps to a tied-up Mills.
You see the problem. The dialogue is terrible. And the situations are ridiculous.
The scene: The bad guys have the drop on Mills. Guns pointed at him all around. But then the lugs inexplicably stand around as he phones his daughter, informs her of his predicament and instructs her how to avoid being captured herself. Um, sure. The audience at the screening I attended erupted in laughter when that happened. Nobody was laughing when Neeson did his one-man army thing in the original.
The plotting is lazy and careless. (The screenplay is by producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, who also wrote the original. Olivier Megaton directed.) At one point, Grace, at her dad's instruction, tosses grenades all over downtown Istanbul. And the cops don't come. More laughter as things go boom.
Neeson is effective as always in Grim Death mode, but he's let down by that silly screenplay.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org