Liam Neeson returns with his special set of skills in Taken 2 to beat up more bad guys and take his extremely vulnerable family to a country that doesn’t much care for Americans. The original Taken was one of those movies you go and see despite the fact it probably isn’t going to be anything spectacular. You watch it to see random henchmen get punched. Unfortunately, Taken 2 can’t even manage to get that right.
In Taken 2, Neeson reprises his role as ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills. In the original Taken, he killed plenty of generic henchmen. It turns out that the families of those henchmen are also criminals and don’t like the fact that Bryan has “taken” them away. The father of Random Henchman #5, Murad Krasniqi, steps up as the leader of a whole new gang of foreigners who wear matching track suits. His plan is to kidnap Bryan’s family and sit back as nameless goons hopefully stop him. He has obviously never watched the original Taken to see why this is a horrible idea.
The first reason as to why Taken 2 is “a bad movie” rather than simply “an okay movie that was pretty awesome” is Liam Neeson’s family. Taken 2 spends the first 20 minutes mistakenly thinking that I care about his wife, played by Famke Janssen, and daughter, played by Maggie Grace. In the first 20 minutes of Taken, Liam Neeson karate chopped a guy in the neck. In the first 20 minutes of Taken 2, Liam Neeson argues with his daughter about a driving test and how he doesn’t think any boy is good enough for his daughter. The kidnapping cannot happen soon enough.
Eventually, the random minions find Liam Neeson in Istanbul and kidnap him and his wife. The daughter manages to escape by using the renowned soldiers that work as hotel security as a distraction. The bad guys like to make their hopelessness abundantly clear throughout the film. Rather than kill Liam Neeson, which is the whole point of the kidnapping, the bad guys leave him alone by himself and they work to find his daughter. With his special set of skills going unchecked, Liam Neeson spends the rest of the film killing nameless goons and not feeling sorry about it.
The fact that large chunks of the movie are slow and uninteresting could be forgiven if the action scenes made up for it. Realizing how close the film is to not being bad, Taken 2 makes sure we also get a good share of terrible cinematography and sloppy editing. One of the fight scenes involves Liam Neeson beating up three thugs at once with his bare hands. During this scene, the camera zooms in and out wildly and randomly shifts to at least 40 different angles. It is impossible to tell who is punching who or what is even happening. A similar thing happens during the car chase and the final confrontation at the end.
I wasn’t expecting too much out of Taken 2 but even my slim hopes for it turned out to be asking a lot. Taken 2 only exists to get more money out of the people who liked the original movie. It is everything that is bad about sequels perfectly summed together in one bad movie. It is a much better usage of your time to just watch the original movie again. Save yourself a wasted afternoon and don’t get taken to Taken 2.