Directed by: Olivier Megaton (Colombiana)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Rade Serbedzija
Now, wouldn't you think that anyone who'd just rescued his daughter from Albanian white slavers might think that taking the family to Disney World would be a better idea than Istanbul? But then that kind of thought process — or indeed any thought process at all — would have precluded the existence of Taken 2, and that would have suited me fine. Unfortunately — and somewhat embarrassingly for the human race — there appears to be a sizable market for movies as blitheringly idiotic as this, where no thought process is evident at all and even less is expected from its audience. This is strictly for the "stuff blows up and lots of unbilled foreigners die" crowd.
The whole movie exists because back in sweet home Albania, the father (inevitable "Eastern European embodiment of evildoings," Rade Serbedzija) of one of the kidnappers that Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) killed in Taken (2008) decides to get revenge. He not only wants to even the score with Mills, but also with Mills' estranged wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). So when Mills invites ex-wife and daughter to join him for a few days in Istanbul, the vengeance-hungry bad guys swing into action. Operating out of some disused mansion and a cavernous warehouse (skillfully concealed behind a hookah shop), they put the bag on mom and dad, leaving Kim (who they're also after) to help dad save the day. That's absolutely all there is to the picture — apart from the amassed preposterosity of the action scenes this engenders.
Now, I don't particularly care much about action pictures being believable, but I'd prefer they weren't as contemptuous of the audience as those responsible for Taken 2 appear to be. Here we have a film that operates in the belief that you can chuck hand grenades all over Istanbul and go undetected. It also wants us to accept that an LA girl who has failed her driver's exam numerous times can suddenly engage successfully in high-speed action stunts in a stolen taxi with a stick shift. (I'm laying money she's never operated a clutch in her life.) How about a scene where our hero and his daughter take his newly-minted hot-rodder offspring crash their way through the gate — and guard shack — at the U.S. embassy without getting shot? I suppose it's also just an established fact of life that ex-CIA operatives never miss a target, but Albanian gangsters never hit one — unless, of course, they're shooting at disposable ethnic extras. The list goes on, but that's the general tone.
So can anything be said in the film's favor? Well, let's see...it's frequently pretty funny. I particularly enjoyed the way Famke Janssen would give the appearance of jolting back to consciousness whenever the plot called for it, but was otherwise utterly comatose in the last stretches of the film. My suspicion is that that was not supposed to amuse me. In fact, my wife asked me if I was snickering at the drama on the screen, and I had to admit I was. Well, why not? It was the most fun I had in the whole movie. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality.
Playing at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher Cinema 7
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