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 July 30, 2014
"Hercules" not only bounds over the previously set bar but easily stands on its own right as surprisingly solid B-movie entertainment, a sort of sword-and-sandals variation of the John Wayne classic "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" that cleverly hints at subverting and deconstructing its titular legend and the process of mythmaking. It's also a movie in which The Rock throws a horse.
Published July 28, 2014
The haunting music and beauty of "The Phantom of the Opera" - now playing at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts - can still summon shivers, even right in the middle of the dog days of summer.
Published July 26, 2014
For just two guys, Royal Blood is certainly making a lot of noise. With the band's debut album set to arrive next month, the raucous duo of Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher is now on the road, with a stop at The Rave Monday, July 28 next up on the schedule. Before then, however, OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to chat with Thatcher about the band's origins, its inspirations and the all-too-deservedly forgotten '90s band Aqua.
Published July 24, 2014
Every now and then, the writers here at OnMilwaukee.com decide to give other, unique jobs a try. Some have tried cheesemaking. Others the ballet. Me? Well, I fought in the Civil War.
Published July 22, 2014
"The Purge: Anarchy" finds DeMonaco coming closer to turning a good premise into an actually good movie. The sequel still feels like a missed opportunity for something smarter, sharper and just overall better, but hey, at least he made a decent horror thriller this time.
Published July 22, 2014
In addition to the successful rotation of the Oriental, the Downer and the Fox Bay movie theaters, the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival has recruited the Times Cinema to its Avengers team of old school Milwaukee movie houses.
Published July 21, 2014
Thankfully, "Fire and Rescue" is a step above its predecessor, if only because the movie was actually made for big screen consumption this time. Gone is the stiff, antiseptic joylessness of the first film, now upgraded to mere bland competence. If "Planes" was like eating cardboard, "Fire and Rescue" is slightly more digestible cardboard. So progress?
Published July 19, 2014
All musicians create new music. Even the most derivative Top 40 hit features a new combination of notes and lyrics. Very few, however, can claim to have come up with a whole new genre of sound. Chicago blues extraordinaire Corky Siegel is one of those few.
Published July 17, 2014
As a fan rooting for Argentina in the World Cup, last weekend was likely a little rough for Italian crooner Patrizio Buanne. This upcoming weekend, however, is shaping up much more nicely with two headlining performances set for Festa Italiana.
Published July 15, 2014
Today marked the kickoff of the Greater Together Challenge, a competition launched to create awareness, hope and ideas to dismantle segregation, as well as address racial and economic inequality in greater Milwaukee.