Taken 2 has stormed the box office all around the world. But is it any good?
The first Taken saw Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA operative rescuing his daughter from human traffickers as she travels through France. It cemented Neeson as part of a new wave of action films that include the Bourne trilogy and Daniel Craig’s Bond films. Gritty, naturalistic, and notable for their fast paced and hard-hitting action scenes, these films are born from a tense and cynical post-9/11 world. Taken 2 tries to continue in the same vein, but whereas its predecessors are well-thought out, tightly choreographed and representative of an uncertain, late modern world, Taken 2 ends up being a laughable mess.
The story picks up a few months after the first film, with the entire plot being explained in the first scene. Remember all those Albanians and Arabs Liam Neeson killed in Taken? Well, they had friends and relatives who want revenge. So they go after him. People die. That’s…pretty much it. With a screenplay credit by Luc Besson, a veteran of French and American cinema, I expected a little more.
It may well be that Taken 2 used to be a good film. It may have had a great script and some solid performances, but the finished result has been torn apart in the editing room so much that the result is a barely stitched together semblance of an action film that often leaves you with no clue as to what is happening on the screen. There are lines that don’t make sense, choppy edits that leave you bewildered, and the action scenes look like the result of somebody who saw a Bourne film once and decided to do the same thing, despite having never edited a film before. The whole thing is just so rushed, I found it difficult to care about any of the characters or generally anything that happened on screen.
However, the main problem I had with the film was its total lack of story. It seems incredible that for a film which totally relies on the first in the series to set up the plot, you really don’t need to see it to understand what is going on. Bad guys want revenge. That’s it. I was waiting 90 minutes for the film to begin, then the credits rolled. It’s not as if Taken had much of a plot itself, but at least it had some structure. It was made skillfully enough that it was a thoroughly entertaining action film, even if it didn’t break any new ground. But when you combine bad production with a non-existent script, you just end up with a mess. You end up with Taken 2.
As a fan of Taken, I was disappointed. If you want the kind of film this is advertising, you’re better off just watching Taken again. Heck, even the Transporter films were better than this. At least they were fun to watch. Neeson himself looked bored to be there, and it is probably telling that he hasn’t signed on for Taken 3. I won’t be signing on either.