Post-release DLC can be a lot of fun for video games. It gives you short extra missions or plot arcs not included in the original, and gets you back into the game you used to love for only a couple bucks. In that sense, Taken 2 is like DLC for the original Taken. Unfortunately, the concept doesn’t translate to film quite as effectively.
Taken 2 barely feels like an actual sequel, stretching the plot out to fill up a full ninety minutes which is apparently the bare minimum length decreed for a movie like this. While the first film was full of globetrotting badassery, here we have a film taking place in about four square blocks of Istanbul, and almost nowhere else.
The Mills are trying to get their life back together after their daughter was kidnapped a sold into sex slavery. Quite the event to come back from. Kim (Maggie Grace) now has a boyfriend which naturally has dad Brian (Liam Neeson) checking up on him over the protests of his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). After Lenore gets separated from her douchebag rich new husband (never actually shown this time around), Brian offers to take her and Kim and a family trip to lovely Istanbul. What could go wrong?
“Bitch I’ve fought Nazis, timber wolves and Sith Lords, you can’t do nothing to me.”
Well, in the background Brian is being stalked by Murad Krasniqi, the father of one of the guys he killed while cleaving a path of destruction through Europe several months earlier. The plan? Capture Brian and his family, bring him back to the motherland (I’m still not sure where that is, or even who these people are), and execute them on top of their dead men’s graves or something. It never occurs to him that he should probably bring more than ten men to capture the guy who he’s angry at for…killing ten of his men.
Bumbling villains aside, he does manage to subdue Brian and Lenore, while Kim is left on her own to run from the remaining bad guys while taking instructions from her dad on the phone. It kind of reminds me of season two of 24 where another Kim, Kim Bauer, had similar phonecalls from her badass father about how to fight mountain lions and such.
I thought the role reversal could be kind of cool here, but what they do with it is a few steps past insane. In order to figure out where he’s being held, Brian instructs Kim to go into his weapons case and start running around town THROWING GRENADES so he can use echolocation to pinpoint his exact location. It’s like something out of a bad Grand Theft Auto mission, and is exactly as preposterous onscreen as it sounds here.
“No, you heard me right, I said THROW A GRENADE.”
Outside of random grenade throwing, the rest of the action is really nothing worth remembering. Liam Neeson shoots some guys in various alleys and backrooms around Istanbul, and his climactic fight is a hand to hand bout with a sub-henchman who is quite literally two feet shorter than him. Before that, we were treated to an epic car chase where Kim, who has failed her license test twice, somehow transforms into a professional stunt driver in a matter of seconds and executes moves that would drop the jaws of The Stig.
I can forgive a movie for being stupid if it at least has worthwhile action. I can forgive a movie with lame action if it at least isn’t stupid. Sadly, with Taken 2, we’re caught in a bit of a bind.
This movie did not need to exist, as Taken was a fantastic standalone feature. If it DID need to me made, using Brian’s family once more gives it a “I can’t believe this happening AGAIN!” vibe like the one that made The Hangover 2 so terrible. Rather, if he was trying to rescue like Kate Middleton’s baby in Qatar or something, that would have probably been a better premise.
Taken 2 makes sure you know this time that another sequel could come, and judging by the box office totals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen. If we are going to try and do this a third time, we need more substance, more locations, more everything. But probably less Kim and Lenore. One more traumatic event for them and they’re going to be locked up in an insane asylum for Taken 4.
2 out of 5 stars