55. Taken 2 (PG-13) - Runtime: 92 minutes
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
I really enjoyed the first Taken - it was a fun movie that didn't overstay its welcome. I don't think I'd ever go back to watching it again - it's one of those "one and done" kind of movies. The thrill is gone after the first viewing. So it's head-scratching as to why Luc Besson would want to write a sequel. It's not that head-scratching for a studio - Taken 2 made just as much money domestically as its first installment. But creatively - this movie wasn't built to be a franchise - and Taken 2 shows how basically you can kill any good will from the previous film.
The story is rather simple (and dull): the bad guys Liam Neeson took out in the first movie have a very powerful father who wants revenge. Meanwhile, Liam Neeson (I can't be bothered to remember his character's name!) is on an assignment for security detail when his ex-wife and daughter surprise him in Istanbul to take a awkward quasi-family vacation! Seriously - the movie makes no attempt to offer you any details on his family life nor what his relationship to his ex-wife or daughter are. ANY. And this is when I stopped caring because the bad guys kidnap his ex-wife and eventually they kidnap Neeson, too! And then it's up to Maggie Grace (the dumb blonde from the first movie who started this whole mess) to save the day and get her father out of this mess. But really that only means Neeson screaming directions into a hidden phone the whole time. Yeah, Maggie Grace isn't exactly gonna punch her way out of this situation.
The whole movie is completely unhinged - reality be damned! I know the first movie stretched the limit on its believability - but Taken 2 extends this logic to an absurdity. On top of the film being not aware of reality, it's really quite dull. Literally three things happen in the movie: Neeson and ex-wife get kidnapped. Maggie Grace helps her dad get free. Neeson hunts down and kills everyone and gets his wife back. That's it - I can be thankful the movie only lasted 90 minutes because it was pretty boring. There's some action in the movie, but never once did I get excited - it just seemed so pedestrian.
I'm sure there's talks of Taken 3 in the works. I highly doubt Neeson would be interested (although his next few movies would like to beg to differ), but they could crank out a few straight-to-DVD sequels that will undoubtedly star Tom Berenger as the stand-in for Neeson. This was a completely unnecessary movie and shame on me for watching it. It's a boring movie and feels like everyone stopped caring the moment they got on set. Also, can we just take a moment to recognize the somewhat amazing and truly awful name of the director - Olivier Megaton?!?!? I have no idea how this man managed to get a decent gig in Hollywood without being laughed out of the room. Seriously, change your name dude - I don't respect you as an action director any more because of that name than if your real name was Terd Finkelstein.
Rating: Avoid Like the Plague!