When Taken was a surprise hit in 2008 it became inevitable that a sequel would appear at some point. That point is now and Bryan Mills has to exercise his particular set of skills to protect his family again. Last time it was business, this time it’s personal. For his opponents.
Co-writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have adopted an interesting approach to the sequel by suggesting that the men Mills killed in the first movie were also someone’s sons, grandsons, fathers or husbands. To give bit players such a thematically important place in the sequel is quite a cool idea. Rade Serbedizija joins the cast as Murad, father of Marko—the man Mills fried to death after torturing him for Kim’s whereabouts in the first movie. Murad wants revenge. By killing Bryan and his family.
There are a couple of flaws with that plan though: one is that nobody in the audience ever thinks Bryan Mills is in any kind of danger. This dude is well nigh bulletproof. Younger, faster men attempt to kick, punch and shoot him and he always dispatches them to the after-life without breaking a sweat.
The other problem with Taken 2 is the storytelling itself. That good idea I mentioned from earlier never rises above that single line description and the lead antagonist spends a lot of time sitting down—while he answers phone calls, while he thinks, and also during his final confrontation with Bryan Mills. Now if that’s his idea of being rude I suppose it’s only fair that Bryan Mills teach him some manners.
The pacing is totally off on this one. Too much needless setup during which Bryan Mills comes off like a creepy ex-husband stalking his family. Director Olivier Megaton doesn’t quite keep it together. Also, Famke Janssen delivers every line like English is a foreign language, which is very distracting. I found it hilarious (not in a good way) that all Albanians seemed to speak English, even when they were among their own people. And Maggie Grace is given a little more action this time around. I suppose she is competent enough to pull off expressions for ‘scared’, ‘anguished’, ‘determined’, ‘focused’ and ‘brave’ whenever the director asks for it. If most of them look like her version of Blue Steel and Magnum well, what were you expecting? Really.
Some of the action is cool. Like the bit with the grenades. Some of the action was competent. Like the driving scene. But there were way too many visual/audio cues borrowed directly from Tony Scott movies. And this movie just did not feel substantial in the way the previous one did.
Is it worth watching once? Sure! But you’re really not going to miss much if you wait for it on DVD.