Currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and playing on Cinemax
PG-13 (This is just because they don’t say the f-bomb and no one shows their boobies; which obviously in our society, swearing and boobies are far worse than broken necks, arterial blood, torture and multiple gunshot wounds/maiming/deaths)
Review contains mild spoilers
This Catch Up is written by Telaina Eriksen
I very much enjoyed the first Taken movie. One of the reasons Taken did well at the box office and continues to do well with DVD, Blu-ray and OnDemand sales is because of its visceral story line. Someone(s) has kidnapped Bryan Mills’ (Liam Neeson) only daughter and he destroys half of Paris and racks up a huge body count to find her. Taken strikes at an archetype of parenting—I will protect my children without compromise. If two choices are presented, I will choose protecting my child over all things. You perfectly understand Mills’ heartless shooting and neck-snapping. Parents nod in agreement throughout Taken’s action sequences, “Yeah, electrocute that mother f*cker. He sold your baby.” But this is a movie, and in reality bad things happen to our children and more than likely we will not have special ops training, a photographic memory and secret international contacts to help us. Taken is a fantasy—but a tightly woven, fairly well-written one. Coming in at around 90 minutes, there isn’t much spare flesh in either Taken or Taken 2.
Because of the success of Taken, there was of course, a sequel. I think all of us are pretty skeptical of sequels that are not indicated in the source material (Hobbit cough cough Hobbit cough three movies really? cough cough) but overall Taken 2 performs at about a three out of five star level. One of the most irritating things about the sequel is that Lenore’s (Famke Janssen) second husband is just gone in the sequel. In the first five minutes or so, viewers learn that Lenore is getting a divorce, even though she and her husband appeared to be a loving, solid couple in Taken. It seems very contrived and about as subtle as a “new plot point” arrow appearing on the screen above Lenore’s head. Janssen does the best she can with it (Those of you who know me well know I f*cking hate Jean in the X-Men movies and it is nice to see Janssen play a different character. Because you know, Jean. ICK!). It isn’t difficult to believe Lenore is still carrying a torch for her ex-husband (all six feet six of middle-aged Liam Neeson hubba hubba)–especially after he rescued her beloved baby girl from human traffickers. This part of the movie just isn’t well-done.
Taken 2 has a solid basis—the families of the Albanian mobsters (sorry Albania) want revenge for Mills’ killing spree when he went to fetch his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) back from the Very Bad Men. But rather than have it take place in the U.S., which would have been really interesting, Mills flies the whole fam to Istanbul for vacation after one of his security jobs. Now, if your daughter had been kidnapped by human traffickers less than a year ago, would you choose Istanbul as your vacation destination? Galveston is nice. Puerto Rico is beautiful. There is whale-watching in Alaska. Montreal is very temperate that time of year. It just seems another jaunt across the seas would be ill-advised. It’s not that I think Istanbul is un-safe in real life, it just seems giving the luck this family has had that the new Harry Potter theme park might have made the short list of vacation opportunities. So I had to suspend a little disbelief at that point in the movie.
The Albanians plan is to take the WHOLE family this time. I was glad that Kim plays a more active role in the sequel, though Grace does not have the same acting chops of Janssen and Neeson, she does come off as more than an over-sized 12-year-old in Taken 2, which is a definite improvement over the original. I believe the body count might be even higher in the sequel than it is in the original, and Neeson is wrapping up shooting Taken 3. I’m not sure anyone in this fictive version of Albania will be left after the final Taken installment. Maybe that sequel will just be Liam Neeson strapped up with a bad-ass flamethrower and dropped by airplane somewhere over Eastern Europe? While I won’t be standing in line opening weekend for Taken 3, I will definitely give it a looksee when it shows up in my fancy cable queue or on Netflix.