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Movie review: Taken 2
Liam Neeson has had a pretty impressive career to date. Despite his manly size, he's managed not to get typecast and take on a surprisingly broad range of roles. And then Taken happened.
This 2008 film about a man tracking down the men who abducted his daughter in Paris was a surprise hit, and saw Neeson in a rarely seen action lead role. So at the ripe old age of 56, the Irish actor had suddenly been re-invented as the latest action hero star.
He may well be getting on a bit, but that's not to say that Neeson can't pull it off. Simply put, he can. But a sequel to this particular project was never going to be a good idea.
A year after the ordeal that both Bryan (Neeson) and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) went through, life appears to be settling down for the Mills family. So much so that a reconciliation with his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) is looking on the cards.
Bryan has to go off to Turkey on business, but he hopes to hook up with the two most important women in his life when he gets back. Just when he finishes his duties in Istanbul, he gets a lovely surprise – his wife and daughter show up in his hotel.
That's not the only surprise in store for the family however. Murad Hoxha (Rade Šerbedžija) is not a forgiving man; he lost a son last year and is struggling with the loss. It turns out that Bryan killed him, as he was the man determined to take his daughter in Paris. Now Hoxha has plans of his own, but this time around they involve the entire Mills family.
Part of the success of the original was born from the fact that its 15 certificate gave Neeson's character license to dispose of his enemies in quite a bloody fashion. Obviously this sequel is hoping to replicate the original – in almost every way – but is hampered by a 12A rating. The action is alarmingly watered down, so much so that it's like drinking tonic water when you asked for a G & T.
And then you have the ridiculousness of the story. Same plot, different city. It's kind of ironic however, that this one is set in Turkey. Neeson should have been embarrassed by some of the dialogue he had to spout. At one point he has to ask his daughter on the phone "can you get out of the closet safely?", and he's not referring to a choice in sexuality.
Not only is the action material more appropriate for a 12A audience, there's far less of it. The film takes almost half an hour in revelling in just how happy Bryan and his family are together. And unfortunately for Neeson, the plot devices that see his family taken, and then have him get them back again, are downright laughable; mainly they consist of his daughter letting off grenades around the city, with Neeson's character telling her if she was getting warmer or colder to his location. In doing so, the film takes being far-fetched to a whole new level.
Although the original was far from a classic, what elements of it that were entertaining have been completely stripped in this follow-up. In fact Taken 2 is the very definition of a pointless sequel.
Leeson may well have inadvertently re-invented himself as an ageing action hero, but if he's involved in another turgid episode in this particular franchise, the only thing that he would be taking is the mickey.
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