Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Directed by Olivier Megaton
Nobody expected much from the cheesy action thriller “Taken” when it was released in in the U.S. in January of 2009, but not only did it surprise everyone in Hollywood when it grossed an impressive $145 million domestically, but it also reinvented Liam Neeson as a mature action hero who picked up where Harrison Ford left off.
In the years that followed, mid-range box office hits – like last year’s “Unknown” and last winter’s “The Grey” – solidified Neeson’s newfound status, so of course it was only a matter of time before moviegoers were graced with “Taken 2.” And now that it’s here, it tries to deliver the action-packed goods that have become expected of producer Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) and director Olivier Megaton (“Transporter 3”), but it offers nothing more and feels like a redundant cash-grab because of it.
Picking up two years after he saved his kidnapped daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from a prostitution ring in Paris, “Taken 2” finds retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) in Istanbul for a family vacation with Kim and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). What he doesn’t yet know – and is about to learn the hard way – is that the father of Kim’s former captor wants revenge, and he wants Bryan’s whole family to pay the price.
It’s a lazy premise for a simple sequel, and the whole affair feels phoned-in. It goes through the motions with underwhelming action scenes, and it’s missing the element of surprise that made the first movie so much fun. At least Maggie Grace gets a piece of the action this time around after playing the victim in the first movie, but it still feels like more of the same, and not in a good way.
Producer Luc Besson was recently quoted as saying that no matter how big “Taken 2” turns out to be at the box office, there will not be a “Taken 3.” In the world of Hollywood, I find that hard to believe, but given how much “Taken 2” falls short of its predecessor, here’s hoping that he’s a man of his word.