Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
The old man (Rade Serbedzija) is standing over a series of graves, with grieving people all around, lamenting the fact that brothers, husbands, fathers and sons have all been killed by one man and this one man will be brought to Albania and brought to justice.  Now personally, if I was one of those grievers, I'd ask the old man… 'Waitaminute…if I'm not mistaken, this cat came into our house which was heavily fortified, armed with basically only a gun and his fists and kills up everybody… and now you want to make a special trip to find this guy and this time escort him into our house?  That's your plan?  Yo dawg… count me out.'  Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), the man with a special set of skills has returned to recapture someone close to him that was Taken and more brothers, husbands, fathers and sons from Albania will be missing from the planet Earth.  Bank on it.

Today Bryan is to be dispatched to Istanbul to help protect somebody or another for a large sum of money.  His daughter is still recovering from the effects of being kidnapped, hyped up on heroin and almost sold into slavery during the last movie, and his wife is considerably less bitchy this time around since her rich husband is about to leave her.  What would be nice is if Kimmy (Maggie Grace) and Lenore (Famke Jannsen) came to Istanbul with Bryan to decompress a little, get away from it all because when Kimmy goes overseas we know nothing but good times happen.

Also in Istanbul is that old dude we mentioned earlier and bunch disposable movie Albanians and they have a plan for Bryan.  The plan should be to spy him from a distance and put a bullet in his head with a high powered-scoped rifle, but no, the old dude has some Dr. Evil type elongated torture planned for Bryan and it's just dumb luck that his ex-wife and child happen to be there as well so this all should work out swell. 
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Yeah… right.  I mean it was looking positive for a brief minute for the heavies.  The bad guys have Bryan in a bad spot mainly because the ex-wife couldn't follow the exacting instructions that would've saved her ass and to the untrained eye one would think that that's all she wrote for Bryan and Lenore.  Fortunately for Bryan and Lenore, little Kimmy the twenty nine year old High School Senior has learned to listen to her old man and what once was lost… that being a gun… now is found and more brothers and husbands and sons and fathers are going to be tracked down and are going to be killed.  Over and over and over again. 

'Taken', one of my favorite action movies ever, caught everybody by surprise when it was released a couple of years ago, especially Fox Pictures who had no earthly clue that that French produced action movie would be as successful as it turned out to be.  No clue.  What I don't have a clue about is why I… and others… found 'Taken' so darned entertaining or why any movie works and some don't.  Now don't get me wrong because 'Taken 2' is entertaining to a degree, it's just not 'Taken' is all.  Maybe it's as simple as director Pierre Morel, who producer Luc Besson doesn't put to work nearly enough, being replaced by director Olivier Megaton who producer Luc Besson probably puts to work a little too much.  Or maybe it's because 'Taken 2' as a sequel adds nothing… and I mean nothing of any kind of difference from the first movie, outside of being a little bigger, louder and a lot stupider.

Bryan has his daughter throwing grenades in Istanbul so he can get a gage as to where he has been taken.  Freaking grenades.  While watching stuff blow up is cool, I'm thinking at some point Istanbul police should be able to track down a darn near six foot American teenage girl running through their town tossing grenades.  Then there's the car chase scene, which while thrilling was kind of funny listening to Bryan berate his daughter, who failed her driving test in America, but was coaxed by her old man through the difficult task of driving a stick through the crowded streets of Istanbul like an Earnhardt on mescaline.  It took me a week to teach my wife how to drive a stick, with much pain for the transmission suffered by my old SR5, but this girl was putting the clutch on the floor, handling the stick and drifting like she was Steve McQueen in Bullitt.  Another issue is that there is almost no suspense in this movie.  Sure, we know Bryan Mills and his special skills are going to save the day but now he's become a superhero, one that doesn't even have a Kryptonite weakness.  And the old man as a bad guy was a little lame.  The last movie didn't have a central bad guy either, just an entire nation of murderous Albanians, but that did seem to work better than an old dude who offered up almost no resistance when the time came.

The basic elements were still there for action movie goodness however.  Liam Neeson's mere presence in these movies raises them up a couple of levels, Megaton does keep this nonsense moving as there are plenty of fist fights, car chases, explosions and plenty of dead Albanians to look at… but… and this is the main detriment to this otherwise serviceable action thriller… It's no 'Taken'.  I imagine in the next movie Kimmy will get married and have a baby and that baby will be Taken by evil Albanians.  Freaking Albanians.
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