Taken a step too far

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - LEIGH PAATSCH

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

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