Review by Zach Stanbery
A few weeks ago on Thursday night (or Friday morning?) I attended the midnight showing of Taken 2. This comes as no surprise to those who know me. My preferred genre of movies is the one with the most explosions, and I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to the movies that go “bang.”
In Taken 2, Brian Mills, played by Liam Neeson, and his ex-wife Lenore are kidnapped while on vacation in Istanbul. Unlike the first Taken, the audience is privy to the actions of the “bad guys” throughout the film. From the very beginning of the movie we know who the villains are, and their motives. This provides for a very different feel than the first film.
I had heard a lot of rumors about Taken 2—mostly bad ones. The rumors and rotten tomatoes both claimed it to be utterly terrible. I am here to dispel those rumors! Well, kind of. Within its genre it does fairly well, and within its franchise it holds up. We definitely don’t have another Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on our hands here. It’s not perfect, and I definitely wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s as good as the first, either. A lot of the rumors have been that there isn’t enough action, to which I would firmly disagree. Moreover, some skeptics have said, “How can you possibly one-up the original?” For those people I have two words, and those words are “police baton.” I don’t want to ruin anything, but just imagine what Brian Mills can do with his hands. Now, put a collapsible police baton in those hands.
Compared to other more serious films, Taken 2 may not look so impressive, but you have to consider the genre! It has all of the period correct action elements:
-Exotic location: Check
-Rooftop chase scene: Check
-Car chase scene: Check
-Unnecessary explosions: Check
-Lots of easily dispensable bad guys: Check
-Final “Boss” fight: Check
The question is whether or not these elements hold up to their counterparts. The location for the movie is Istanbul, and it really works. I’m going to chalk that up for a win. The rooftop chase scene was far less than impressive when compared to movies like Quantum of Solace and The Bourne Ultimatum. So in that regard, it fails almost completely. The only redeeming quality of the rooftop chase is its lack of parkour. (For those of you who are less aware of current social issues, parkour is a disease that has been slowly infesting itself into action movies over the last decade.) The car chase performs about as well as the rooftop chase. Instead of the cold, calculating, Brian Mills carving a swath of automotive mayhem through the streets of Istanbul, we have his daughter Kim squealing a path of annoyance down a few alleys.
When it comes to the unnecessary explosions, the “G” in GPS stands for “Grenade.” That’s right, nothing says “unnecessary explosions” like using grenades as a global positioning system. Over-the-top? Yes. But, that is the nature of a sequel. There are plenty of easily dispensable bad guys, but I’m not exactly sure how to “review” them. For one thing, if I were one of these bad guys I would stop hanging out in old kitchens to drink coffee and watch soccer, because this seems to be their fatal flaw in both Taken and Taken 2.
Now for the final “Boss” fight! I was just discussing a few days ago how awesome the final fight is in the first film. Within the action movie universe, it seems perfectly logical that the person who could take on Mills would be the well-trained bodyguard of an extremely rich person, and that’s exactly what the first film gives us. In Taken 2, however, we have a guy in a tracksuit. Let that sink in for a moment. Brian Mills, the man who just beat down probably 50+ men, finds his only challenge in the wearer of a tracksuit. In the moment, it makes sense. The fight is cool, it’s convincing, it’s everything the movie begs for, but it’s just a guy in a tracksuit. There is literally no explanation given for this man’s abilities. That being said, I was still entertained. Like I said, it’s convincing.
Taken 2 Trailer from FilmTrailerZone
All in all, it’s a decent movie. As with the first movie, I expect a few things to be more realistic in the extended cut, but I will have to wait and see. There are a few forced lines here and there, but whether or not it hurts the finished product is anyone’s opinion. If I had to rate this movie I would say that it is “Streets Ahead.” If I had to rate this movie in a way that makes sense to those who didn’t get the Community reference just then, I would give it 2.5 out of 4 stars.