Neeson's steely presence was the main reason for the surprise success and continued endurance of Luc Besson's 2008 hit, Taken. It should come as no surprise then, that someone somewhere would try to cash in on the original's success, hence the completely needless existence of Taken 2.
Director Oliver Megaton (Transporter 3) steps in for Luc Besson, and despite lots of flashy cinematography and frenetic editing, Megaton is just not the action craftsman that Besson is, and it shows in this film's disappointingly rote action sequences, that range from ridiculous to just plain silly. A rooftop chase through Istanbul is reminiscent of a similar, and altogether superior, sequence in Skyfall, which is almost a textbook on how to do modern action correctly.
|Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) shoots his way out of another dire situation.|
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It is a scene that is completely indicative of Taken 2's absolute disregard of any kind of narrative logic. By the time Mills returns to rescue Lenore and dish out justice of the Neeson kind, the film has forfeited all credibility in favor of incoherently edited shoot-em-up fireworks. Megaton has visual flair to spare, but even Neeson's charisma seems dampened by the relative pointlessness of this film. It is the epitome of a soulless cash grab, and offers to real reason for existing other than watching Neeson shoot people. Alas, even that has lost some of its luster amid Megaton's hectic style, making me long for the relative subtlety of Dirty Harry. The Blu-ray presentation is handsome enough, and Megaton does give us some gorgeous wideshots, but they are in service of such an insufferable film that it all adds up to naught. Stick with the original. It's really all we needed in the first place.
GRADE - ★½ (out of four)
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.