Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer: Luc Besson (screenplay), Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay)
Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
While on vacation in Istanbul, Bryan Mills and his family become the target of revenge by the father and family of the men he killed during the search and rescue of his daughter in the events of the previous film.
So here we go with my pick of the month for October. I’ve repeatedly stated that when this sequel was first announced, I was a bit skeptical with the concept for the movie because it sounded like nothing more than a cash grab. Upon the release of the trailers, my perception of the film began to change and, quite honestly, I was excited for this movie, especially with how much I love the original film. Admittedly I went into Taken 2 with some pretty high expectations, despite the directorial switch from Pierre Morel to Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3, Colombiana). Were my expectations met? Sadly, no, and though I still found elements to the movie really enjoyable, this sequel was a major disappointment.
Before I get into what put me off with this movie, I’ll go into what I thought was really good about it, which was the build up and set up of the movie. This accounts for the entire first act of the film, which I thoroughly enjoyed, because of all the ties to the original. I liked how Luc Besson’s screenplay took the time to show what the effects of the previous film’s events have had on Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his relationship to his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace). Considering what they had all gone through, I really appreciated that this movie didn’t choose to ignore any lasting impacts of such a traumatic experience, and how through Mills’ actions, he not only rescued his daughter, but also his relationship with his family.
One specific area which this movie improved on, for me, was exploring the relationship between Bryan and his ex-wife, Lenore. Despite having an actress like Famke Janssen in the original film, her character didn’t play a big role and it was understandable. Here in Taken 2, her character was given a lot more exposure, and we got a better understanding of why she was so bitter towards Bryan in the original movie, prior to the rescue of their daughter. I found this to be a point of the film where we got some character development for Bryan and Lenore, with Neeson and Janssen giving good performances during these scenes. It really reinforced the whole family theme that this movie has going for it, and it made for an interesting angle to the movie.
It’s only when the film enters its second act where the movie began to fall apart. The kidnapping of Bryan and Lenore was done pretty well. However, on the flipside, the daughter’s escape was executed rather clumsily, with the kidnappers making a couple of idiotic mistakes. The second act continues to flip flop with its execution. At one point, it’s pretty impressive to see Bryan Mills’ powers of observation being put to use through his daughter, who he used to deduce where he and Lenore have been taken to. On the other hand, the manner in which they show Maggie Grace’s character achieve the objectives that her father has laid out for her to find them was done rather poorly.
From there, once father and daughter are reunited, the movie really collapsed into one big mess of a chase film. It’s a real disappointment for me considering that up until this point of the film—which was the half-way point—I was really into the movie. Here on out, the movie didn’t deliver on so many levels, and part of it had to do with director Olivier Megaton. I wasn’t a big fan of Transporter 3 nor of Colombiana, and here in Taken 2, the director just feels like he’s overcompensating a weak screenplay with style. The movie feels over-stylized compared to its predecessor, which really doesn’t suit this type of film, and thus it ends up being detrimental to the movie’s entertainment level.
As much as the screenplay and directing were awful in the second half of the film, the biggest negatives for this film had to be its editor and its audio. As much as I wasn’t a fan of Olivier Megaton’s directing, the editor he had for this film was even worse. There were way too many quick cuts in this film, especially during fight scenes. At points, it was just way too hard to follow what was happening on screen. What’s worse is that many of the quick cuts feel extraneous and superfluous, with cuts being inserted for the sake of having cuts.
Lastly, what really hurt this movie was its audio, or lack thereof for that matter. There really wasn’t much to engage you during the second half, as the audio experience for this movie almost completely disappeared. The soundtrack was just forgettable—not that I can even remember anything being played—and there was also little to no dialogue to keep me invested. Throw in two weak deaths that could have used better emphasis of sound effects, and the movie just fell flat on its face towards the end.
I really wanted to like this sequel, I really did. For a good half of the film, I actually was into this, but the movie just completely fell flat on its face once the action started rolling. It’s hard to find any good reason to watch this movie. In a year loaded with great action films, this isn’t one to go out of your way to watch. If you’re a huge fan of the original, you’ll have some reason to watch this, but for everyone else, I wouldn’t go out of my way to pay money for it.
GO Rating: 2.5/5