×

Taken 2

Shifting the action from Paris to Istanbul, "Taken 2" equals its predecessor in enjoyable silliness, if not brutal nastiness.

With:
Bryan Mills - Liam Neeson
Kim - Maggie Grace
Lenore - Famke Janssen
Murad Krasniqi - Rade Sherbedgia
Sam - Leland Orser
Casey - Jon Gries
Bernie - D.B. Sweeney
Jamie - Luke Grimes

Four years after Fox’s low-budget “Taken” grabbed a surprise $225 million worldwide, catapulting thesp Liam Neeson to unlikely action-star status, producer-scribe Luc Besson chases another payday with “Taken 2,” equaling the original in enjoyable silliness, if not brutal nastiness. Shifting the action from Paris to Istanbul, “Taken 2” promotes Maggie Grace’s serially unlucky teen from distressed damsel to plucky participant, and also develops Famke Janssen’s ex-wife role, decisions that could help broaden the pic’s appeal beyond action fans. Political correctness only extends so far, however: Depiction of Albanian heavies won’t promote Besson as an apt candidate for U.N. goodwill ambassador.

Two years after the events of “Taken,” retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) hasn’t lost any of his overprotective impulses toward his now 19-year-old daughter, Kim (Grace): When she fails to show up for her driving lesson, he tracks her down to her new b.f.’s house via the GPS device he secretly planted in her cell phone. Meanwhile, with relations between the divorced parents on the thaw, Bryan invites former spouse Lenore (Janssen) and his daughter to join him in Istanbul for a holiday tagged to the end of his latest bodyguard assignment.

Unluckily for them, Murad (Rade Sherbedgia), still consumed with bitter rage over the death of his sex-trafficker son at Mills’ hands in the first pic, seizes a chance for revenge. A last-minute change in the family’s sightseeing plans helps Kim escape the kidnapping that befalls her parents, and with the clock rapidly ticking, she becomes their best and only chance of rescue.

The pic’s enjoyably ludicrous highlight sees Kim, armed with a city map, shoelace, marking pen and several hand grenades, quickly locating and arming her father, who barks orders at her from a tiny device he had concealed on his body for just such an eventuality. The success of this elaborate father-daughter communication and the events that follow hinges on some of the most lackadaisical hostage-guarding in the history of criminal endeavor; given Mills’ proven efficacy at wiping out adversaries, it might have been advisable to have kept a significantly keener eye on their captive. The first round of action climaxes with a high-speed getaway in a stolen vehicle, with inexperienced Kim fumbling at the wheel as bullets rain down. As Driver’s Ed goes, it’s what you might call a baptism by fire.

Helmer Olivier Megaton (“Colombiana”) proves an efficient substitute for “Taken” helmer Pierre Morel, without exactly offering a personal stamp, rendering this just another product in the Besson hit factory. Photogenic locations, including the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and the Bosphorus, are agreeably captured by d.p. Romain Lacourbas (also “Colombiana”), nicely exploiting Istanbul’s special quality of light. The shift to this more exotic locale requires considerable exposition, however, including the news that the city straddles Europe and Asia, prompting a wide-eyed Kim to ask her father incredulously, “How do you know this stuff?”

Plenty of the dialogue, co-scripted once again with regular Besson collaborator Robert Mark Kamen, falls into the so-bad-it’s-good category, and audience derision is presumably all part of the envisaged fun. Action is notably softer throughout, sidestepping the certification issues that challenged the original film (“Taken” required cuts to achieve a PG-13 in the U.S., and went out on a 15 certificate in Blighty’s cinemas and 18 on DVD). Gorehounds have already been disappointed to learn the British censor passed this less severe sequel as a 12A for “moderate threat and violence.”

Neeson, despite having turned 60 in June, looks spritely enough in the role, and more than capable of another go-round should “Taken 2” match its predecessor’s success. Whether audiences would believe that Bryan, Lenore or Kim could be kidnapped yet again is another matter.

Taken 2

U.S.-France

Production: A 20th Century Fox (in U.S./U.K.) release and presentation of a Europacorp, M6 Films, Grive Prods. co-production, with the participation of Canal Plus, M6 and Cine Plus. (International sales: Europacorp, Paris.) Produced by Luc Besson. Directed by Olivier Megaton. Screenplay, Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Romain Lacourbas; editors, Camille Delamarre, Vincent Tabaillon; music, Nathaniel Mechaly; production designer, Sebastien Inizan; art directors, Atilla Yilmaz, Nanci Roberts; costume designer, Olivier Beriot; sound (Dolby Digital), Stephane Bucher, Frederic Dubois, Dean Humphreys; sound designer, Dubois; re-recording mixers, Humphreys, Dubois; special effects supervisor, Philippe Hubin; visual effects supervisor, Paul Briault; visual effects, MacGuff Ligne, Digital Factory; fight choreographer/stunt coordinator, Alain Figlarz; line producers, Frank Lebreton, Diloy Gulun, Michael Mandaville; assistant directors, William Pruss, Ludovic Bernard; second unit camera, Sarel Eloff; casting, John Papsidera, Harika Uygur Ulku. Reviewed at Odeon Leicester Square, London, Sept. 18, 2012. (In Deauville Film Festival.) MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: Bryan Mills - Liam Neeson
Kim - Maggie Grace
Lenore - Famke Janssen
Murad Krasniqi - Rade Sherbedgia
Sam - Leland Orser
Casey - Jon Gries
Bernie - D.B. Sweeney
Jamie - Luke Grimes(English, Albanian, Turkish dialogue)

More Film

  • Meryl Streep

    Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman to Star in Ryan Murphy's 'The Prom' at Netflix

    Ryan Murphy enlisted a star-studded cast for his upcoming Netflix movie “The Prom,” an adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Awkwafina, James Corden, Ariana Grande, Keegan-Michael Key and Andrew Rannells are among the A-listers bringing “The Prom” to screens. “The Prom” follows a lesbian student in the fictional conservative town of [...]

  • Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Vaclav

    Viktor Dvorak, Anna Geislerova Join Václav Havel Biopic

    Viktor Dvorak has been cast in “Havel,” a biopic of Václav Havel, as the Czech playwright, dissident and national leader. Anna Geislerova, who starred in Oscar nominated “Zelary,” plays his wife, Olga Havlova. Jiri Bartoska, the president of Karlovy Vary Film Festival, will appear in the film as “Professor,” inspired by Czech philosopher Jan Patocka. [...]

  • Daniel Craig

    'Bond 25' First Footage Sees Daniel Craig Back as 007

    After suffering a series of setbacks, including finding a new director and Daniel Craig’s on-set injury, “Bond 25” production is officially underway. A new behind-the-scenes clip of the upcoming James Bond film features Craig and helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga at work in the Caribbean. The minute-long footage didn’t reveal much about the still-untitled movie, though [...]

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    ‘Roma,’ ‘The Good Girls’ Top Mexico’s Ariel Academy Awards

    The Mexican Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences hosted the 61st edition of their Ariel Awards on Monday evening, where Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” and Alejandra Márquez Abella’s “The Good Girls” stood out among the winners. Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cuarón’s “Roma” scooping best picture is that it’s only the second of his films to [...]

  • The Eight Hundred (The 800)

    Already Pulled From Shanghai Festival, 'The Eight Hundred' Cancels Its China Release

    Already pulled from its prestigious spot as the opener of the Shanghai International Film Festival, war epic “The Eight Hundred” has been dealt a further below with the cancellation of its scheduled release in China next week. In a terse announcement on its official Weibo account, the film said late Tuesday that, “after consultation between [...]

  • Méndez Esparza, Fernando Franco, Villaronga Projects

    Projects By Mendez Esparza, Fernando Franco and Villaronga at Small Is Biutiful

    Antonio Méndez Esparza’s “Que nadie duerma,” Fernando Franco’s “La consagración de la primavera” and Agustí Villaronga’s “3.000 obstáculos” figure among the seven projects to be pitched at Paris’ Small Is Biutiful forum. The closing event for the alternative Spanish film festival Dífferent 12!, Small Is Biutiful takes place June 26, bringing together French distributors and [...]

  • Judi Dench

    Judi Dench Says Works by Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey Should Be Respected

    Veteran British star Judi Dench has said that the work produced by Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey should be separated from the offenses they are alleged to have committed. Both Weinstein and Spacey face charges of sexual assault in the U.S., which they deny, and have been investigated in other jurisdictions as well, including Britain. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content