Taken a step too far
YOU remember Taken, right? That brutally basic Liam Neeson revenge thriller from 2008?
Most action- inclined punters would agree it was fun at the time. If only because no one saw it coming: the former Oskar Schindler mowing down a couple of hundred Albanian sex traffickers with extreme prejudice.
The story wasn’t all that important. Those sweaty, unshaven blaggards had swiped a retired CIA agent’s daughter. They deserved everything they got.
No, what made Taken a smash was the trashy prospect of seeing the once- saintly Neeson sticking his dignity in his back pocket, just so he could stuff some bad dudes full of lead. With the occasional knifing, amputation and strangulation thrown in for good measure.
In many ways, it was as if Meryl Streep had been cast in the lead of Kill Bill. It shouldn’t have happened, but you couldn’t resist checking it out.
Now we have Taken 2, an oh- so-obligatory sequel that had to happen ( the first film ranks as Neeson’s biggest US box- office hit as a leading man) but is all too easy to resist.
Denied the ability to spring any element of surprise this time around, Taken 2 flounders about without poise or purpose for much of its running time.
Same goes for Neeson, who looks ever so slightly embarrassed to be going through these motions all over again.
Especially as his character, Bryan Mills, is pitted once more against those abysmal Albanian abductor types.
By the way, they’re still rockin’ that imitation- leather jacket and trackpants look, now the permanent official uniform of all Eastern European movie mobsters.
The action transpires in Istanbul, Turkey, depicted here as a relentlessly corrupt and grotty metropolis ( which must delight the Turkish tourism czars who bent over backwards to accommodate the Taken shoot on their turf).
In a storytelling switcheroo, Bryan’s daughter Kim ( played once again by Maggie Grace) is no longer the metaphorical female tied to the train tracks awaiting a last- minute rescue.
That job now goes to Bryan’s foxy ex- wife ( Famke Janssen), who was just re- warming to his charms when the Albanians nicked off with her.
There’s a few funky set- piece sequences that pay their way – the bit where Kim saves Bryan from certain death with a shoelace, a marker pen and a hand grenade is magnificent – and a lot of grotesque violence of little value as well.
The film is best enjoyed by those with short memories and a longing for needless excess.
Now showing Village Cinemas