Thursday, October 4, 2012
"Taken 2" opens theaters everywhere October 5th, but I advise you stay at home and watch the original. (Or you can do yourself a huge favor and watch the films I recommend.)
Director Olivier Megaton, takes the helm from "Taken" original director, Pierre Morel, and cranks out a dull, mindless action sequel, in accordance with the standard set by their equally disappointing "Transporter" series.
I sat down in the theater with low expectations for "Taken 2," simply because the premise of being taken again sounded ridiculous. Why don't these people just stop travelling abroad?
My already low expectations were not met. The film is as unimaginative and predictable as its title.
All original characters reprise their roles for the sequel. Retired U.S. agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), his ex-wife (Famke Janssen), and daughter (Maggie Grace) travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where they are tracked down by the relatives of those who were slain by Mills in the previous film. They take Mills and his wife. Mills escapes then tracks down his wife. Bad guys die.
In the original "Taken," the hand to hand combat was faster, more compact and technical, the story unique, and Mills more subtle in all facets. Mills' first action scene, disarming a knife attack, was more gripping than anything he does in "2."
He moves at a glacial pace in the sequel. His first combat sequence has all the makings for an awing performance, but it is terribly slow and lazy. The actors look like they just woke up from a nap, have forgotten their choreography, then decide to wing it. Of course, each action sequence utilizes wacky camera cuts to make strikes and blocks seem quicker, and more dynamic. But they aren't, and no amount of camera trickery can help.
In "Taken," Mills doesn't kill anyone until halfway through the film (I don't count the runner getting hit by the semi-truck). It was slower, and more gradually paced. No guns fired until necessary. Then it turns into a spectacle, with Mills leveling all in his path to reach his kidnapped daughter. But we wanted him to -- we were patient.
Watching "Taken 2" requires as much patience as playing "Grand Theft Auto." We're given a few moments to establish an uninspiring story, then we're pushed through an endless barrage of bullets and car chases.
If you're looking for a predictable and unengaging 90 minutes, enjoy "Taken 2."
"Taken 2" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality.
In light of the highly disappointing action in "Taken 2," I suggest as a companion (or replacement) film, the impeccably awesome "Ip Man" (2008) (trailer below).
Or if you're in more of a 'spy action' mood, Salt (2011).
Nathan John is a former KPBS News Assistant and just couldn't stay away so now he is a guest blogger for Cinema Junkie.