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Taken 2 - Review

Taken 2

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

LIAM Neeson’s second time out as ex-government agent Bryan Mills epitomises everything that’s bad about sequel movie-making.

Whereas the original Taken was one of 2008’s best surprises and a genuine guilty pleasure, its successor is one of 2012’s biggest disappointments and an utterly forgettable experience.

Part of this can be blamed on the plot limitations posed by having the same shit happen to the same guy twice, albeit tweaked to have Mills and his wife (once again played by Famke Janssen) ‘taken’ by the father of one of the men he killed first time out. The device feels cheesy to say the least.

But the biggest bug-bear is undoubtedly the decision to water down the violence in favour of a box office boosting 12A rating.

This above all else smacks of putting the film’s commercial potential above what audiences want: namely, the very thing that helped turn Taken into such a world-wide success in the first place.

Hence, whenever Neeson’s Mills gets to unleash his special set of skills upon the bad guys, the ensuing action is edited in such a fashion that none of the blows, neck breaks, knife stabbings or bullets actually land. And the editing is such that audiences will know that a much harder cut awaits the film’s DVD release.

It sounds like a bloodthirsty criticism to make but Taken with watered down violence is every bit as objectionable as Judge Dredd without his helmet or Dirty Harry brandishing a .38 instead of Magnum 44. It simply misses the point.

Taken 2 gets by on Neeson’s charisma and his decision to portray Mills as even more world-weary this time around, as well as a couple of set pieces that don’t rely as much on combat: namely, a nifty car chase around the streets of Istanbul and an audacious sequence involving the abducted Mills trying to find out his own location by directing his daughter (Maggie Grace) using a map, some shoelace and a couple of grenades.

But even then, much of the kidnap element feels contrived, as do the moments of family drama that book-end the movie.

Taken 2 always had to contend with the loss of the novelty factor but by dumbing things down and removing the one thing that audiences expected to see more of it feels particularly pointless and something of an insult to those handing over their hard earned cash.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 97mins
UK Release Date: October 4, 2012