Liam Neeson (Schindler’s List, Batman Begins) is back as the impossibly hard Bryan Mills in the sequel to the 2008 euro thriller Taken. Luc Besson (Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional) and Robert Mark Kamen (Taken) take joint authorship again while Oliver Megaton (Columbiana, Transporter 3) directs.
The plot follows the Mills clan to Istanbul where everyone gets kidnapped by relatives of those that died at the hands of Bryan in the first film. It is then up to Bryan to escape his captors, save his ex-wife and his daughter.
Fans of the first Taken will notice straight away that Taken 2 has been rated a relatively family friendly 12A, as opposed to the first film’s 15 rating (The first film was rated 15 in cinemas and 18 on home media). This could indicate that the studio sought the wider audience that empirically comes with having a wider demographic of people being able to see the film. The fact that the distributor sought BBFC guidance during post-production, and made some changes to ensure it was able to get the highly prized 12A would seemingly back this up. However, one of the main reasons it was able to get a 12A is that the editing and shaky camera work, that seem to be the action cinema techniques de jour, make it almost impossible to actually see anything approaching the red stuff. The rapid fire editing and “dynamic” camerawork make action scenes somewhat lacklustre, as it’s quite hard to know who has been shot or punched in the brain.
The plot may be thinner than a sheet of grapheme, but one doesn’t really expect challenging narratives from action cinema. Taken 2 takes this to the next level though, by getting almost all the plot exposition out of the way in the first ten minutes, so it can concentrate on what the audience wants: the action.
It may sound – with its constituent parts – that Taken 2 would be an unenjoyable film to sit through. Quite the contrary. Whereas Taken took itself quite seriously and tried to be a moody and gritty action flick, its sequel is full of laughs. An example of this being when Bryan directs his daughter to throw grenades around Istanbul to help him find his way about town, or the aforementioned daughter’s evasive driving techniques, despite the fact that her failing her driving test three times is a plot point. It’s hard to know how much of the film is actually played for laughs, but whether intentional or not, the fact remains that Taken 2 is a funny movie.
People looking for blistering and bone-cracking action should look elsewhere. Taken 2 does not provide in those categories. Also, narrative pendants or even those that are fans of films with plots should steer clear. Taken 2 is a future camp classic, the comically overblown dialogue and stupendously silly plot make the film a genuine pleasure.
Watch the trailer for Taken 2 here