For the past few weeks, I've been coming up ways of making the title "Taken 2" sound ridiculous. "Taken 2 the Streets" and "Taken 2 the Limit" were good candidates; a colleague of mine also recommended "Taken 2: Electric Boogaloo."
Yes, all of these fake titles sound hilariously absurd, but they would all be more fitting for the supremely silly sequel to Liam Neeson's 2009 surprise hit.
A few years after the events of the first film, life is back to normal for the one-man Albanian genocide known as Bryan Mills (Neeson). He's still ridiculously protective of Kim, his teenage daughter (Maggie Grace, not particularly convincing as a 29-year-old teenager), who is still attempting to get her driver's license and has a new boyfriend she's not too keen to tell ex-CIA dad about. He's also still separated from his wife (Famke Janssen), but her current husband is becoming more distant – so distant, in fact, that he's never seen –opening the door for their old flame to light back up.
After a family trip to China with the new husband gets nixed, Bryan decides that the girls could join him on a trip to Istanbul, seemingly forgetting his notoriously violent past with folks from Eastern Europe.
Unfortunately, it seems the Albanians haven't been as forgetful, namely an elderly gentleman (Rade Serbedzija) whose son was one of the many gunned down by Mills in the last movie. He's now seeking revenge, and he doesn't just want Kim. No, he wants the whole Mills trio, seemingly forgetting Bryan's certain set of skills that make him very good at finding and killing kidnappers.
The success of the original "Taken" is still baffling. The Euro-produced thriller was already released in theaters in Europe for almost a year before it was brought across the pond, chopped up for a PG-13 rating and dumped into theaters during the desolate cinematic wasteland otherwise known as January. However, director Pierre Morel's film rode Neeson's gritty charisma and its relatable tourism terror plot to a $100 million box office total.
The sequel leans hard on the hope that'll be enough again on the second go-around. Unfortunately for them, it's not. Sure, audiences still have Neeson, but nothing's been added to the formula save for more ridiculousness, and everything that was bad in the first installment has just gotten worse.
Returning writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, apparently misinterpreting everyone's complaints from the previous film, decide the sequel needs even more time spent with the family's tedious bickering back home. Changing the topic from dreams of pop stardom to fears of parallel parking hasn't made the scenes less dull. The hope is to make us care about the family, but the clunky dialogue – combined with the fact that Grace wasn't passing for a teenager in the last film, much less this one three years later – makes it a long slog to get to the action.
When the action does kick in, it's a disappointment. New director Olivier Megaton, the man behind "Transporter 3" and "Colombiana," may have a last name for action, but he doesn't have much of an eye for it. Many of the sequences could've been intense if the viewer could decipher any of it from the mess of confusing edits. The last two fight scenes, when the action should be at its most spectacular, end on lame notes because the audience can't figure out what's happened.
"Taken 2" would be a painful sit if it wasn't for the hilariously preposterous things that happen in the story. An extended sequence involves Kim throwing grenades around Istanbul with absolutely no repercussions. A car chase features Kim – who remember still doesn't have her driver's license – outrunning both Albanian assassins and Turkish police, and then plowing the car into the U.S. Embassy for no other reason than the producers had an explosion quota that needed to be reached.
These scenes provide some mild entertainment, though not the kind "Taken 2" is striving for. The closest the film manages to get to genuine quality is the impressive locations. Oh, and the use of not one but two songs from last year's neon noir "Drive." The tunes didn't help make this brainless sequel any good, but they did allow my mind to wander off to memories of significantly better movies.
"Taken 2: Electric Boogaloo". You stole my talkback joke, Mueller!!!! Damn you!!!!
3 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published March 1, 2015
It's been about 50 years since a bunch of bands made their way across the pond to America, sending the nation's teenagers into a tizzy - as well as their parents into a harrumph. Now, many of the figures from the era of the British Invasion - including Peter Asher, a renowned producer and the former half of the duo Peter & Gordon - are hitting the American road yet again for a 50th anniversary tour, coming to the Pabst Theater on Friday, March 6.
Published March 1, 2015
Rory Ferreira, aka Milo, has always been on the move. When he was a kid, he moved around a lot. Here, he moved up in the local rap scene, and with his name growing clout, he moved yet again - as many hopeful young artists do - to Los Angeles. And as many hopeful young artists do, he soon found the cold part of the industry. It became time to move again, back to the town he previously left: Milwaukee. So far, he's picking up right where he started.
Published Feb. 27, 2015
After a quarter of a century as Milwaukee music mainstays, Clamnation is coming to an end, bringing things to a grand close Friday night at the Nomad World Pub beginning at 9 p.m. There tends to be an assumption of the worst when band members go separate ways, but that's far from the case here.
Published Feb. 25, 2015
"The Lego Movie Sequel" made headlines yesterday announcing its newly appointed director: Rob Schrab, a veteran of TV shows like "The Mindy Project," "Children's Hospital" and, most notably, NBC's beloved cult hit "Community." He also wrote the indie hit comic book "Scud: The Disposable Assassin." Oh, and he's also from Wisconsin! Everything is local! Everything is cool when you're from Milwaukee!
Published Feb. 25, 2015
If you've kept an ear to the local music scene over the past year or two, the odds are good that you've heard about GGOOLLDD. The band hits the Company Brewing (the former Stonefly Brewery) stage on Saturday night as a part of Arte Para Todos. Before that, however, OnMilwaukee.com caught up with the group to learn more about Milwaukee's latest music obsession.
Published Feb. 24, 2015
In the war between honesty and artifice, "Still Alice" has a pretty phenomenal performance in the former's corner.
Published Feb. 22, 2015
In movies, time travel typically ends up in the hands of the decent or deserving. "Hot Tube Time Machine 2" proposes ... what if it didn't? What if, instead, it wound up in the depraved hands of a bunch of restrained man-child ids, who then proceeded to violate space, time and everyone and everything they ran into along the way? The answer? Some laughs, I guess. A good amount of silence too. Bags don't come much more mixed than this.
Published Feb. 20, 2015
After months of hoopla and think-piecing (and a bomb scare just for extra drama) the Oscars are finally set to go this Sunday. And I suppose that means it's time to get my picks in order.
Published Feb. 18, 2015
Local rock band Eagle Trace has a new EP - "Off in the Night" - primed for release this weekend at a show at Anodyne Coffee in Walker's Point on Saturday, Feb. 21. For the guys, it's exactly the step forward they're hoping for. It's an understandably exciting one after about a year of drama and tension for Eagle Trace. And not just because of the predictable brotherly bickering - though there's some of that as well.
Published Feb. 16, 2015
The fan favorite jukebox musical "Mamma Mia!" - arriving at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts on Friday for a five-show weekend stint - tells the tale of love found and thriving in the midst of the Mediterranean, all to the tune of ABBA hits. For ensemble cast members Jennifer and Vince Wingerter, it's a story that rings true in real life.