Taken 2 movie review
When an action hero guns down a pile of bad guys we don't usually dwell on the consequences. Each goon probably has friends and family that care about them and mourn their deaths. I imagine a wife standing over their grave, "Sure, he was a terrorist involved in human trafficking, but I loved him all the same." They'd be sad, but probably not surprised or out for revenge.
Which makes it convenient that Liam Neeson's character in the first Taken just happened to murder a bunch of criminals with nobody but even more criminals to mourn them. Taken 2 opens with a funeral for the men he entertainingly tortured and killed in the first film. Their graves are surrounded with nothing but grimacing, evil-looking men ready to get revenge on the man who already got revenge for the kidnapping of his daughter.
As their plot comes together, Bryan (Liam Neeson) plays the domestic, fatherly role with his daughter and ex-wife. What follows are several awkward scenes in which he applies his "particular set of skills" to waxing his car, arriving to driving lessons on time, and spying on his daughter. The film seems to be taking it all very seriously, but all I could think of was the skit with Liam Neeson from Life's Too Short.
Eventually Bryan ends up in Istanbul with his wife and daughter, and it isn't long before he has his daughter on the phone again, giving her deadly serious instructions as he and his wife are taken. The concept of the original Taken was pretty spectacular, but it doesn't hold up to a repeat cycle.
The rest of the film is one preposterous moment after another. Using math that doesn't account for phone lag or a million other potential miscalculations, Bryan triangulates his kidnapper's location by having his daughter toss grenades all over the city. No one seems to care that a skinny white girl is running around the rooftops of Istanbul throwing explosives.
It doesn't help that Bryan has a tendency to whisper under his breath about every "brilliant" super spy observation he makes. Didn't they teach him in trained killer school that you shouldn't think out loud? Presumably this is to help the audience realize how clever he is, but it only makes it more obvious that his cool moves don't hold up to more than a few seconds of scrutiny. There's a good reason that Jason Bourne is a man of few words. That Taken 2 makes an almost offensive reference to Drive only reminded me of yet another silent-yet-surgical badass.
Taken 2 is so ridiculous and so dumb, in fact, that half the fun of watching it comes from ridiculing it. Liam Neeson isn't a young guy, and as much as I want to believe him to be a superhero, he just doesn't have the agility to pull it off. The result is awkward hobbling masked by a ton of obnoxiously frantic editing. When he lightly sidesteps a volley of bullets for the twelfth time, you have to wonder if he isn't using his Jedi mind powers to help him out.
Chase scenes are an action movie staple ripe for top ten lists, but Taken 2's car chase will probably be better known for how hilarious it is. When Bryan's triple-failure, unlicensed driver daughter takes the wheel of the car, the film seems to forget that she isn't just a rookie driver, but probably wouldn't know how to drive stick either. Regardless, she yanks on the shifter and floors the pedal like a pro while dad yells at her to "go faster, Kim!" about forty or fifty times.
The reasons to enjoy Taken 2 are much different and much less intentional than the reasons presented by the first film. That said, this incessantly stupid action movie is a delight in the right context. I can imagine a group of friends sitting on a couch with a few beers having a blast as they riff it together. Unintentional humor can only take you so far though, and for most it won't be enough to justify the high ticket prices.