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 April 19, 2014
Gone is Jude Law's pretty regality; in "Dom Hemingway," the Brit looks rough, and he gleefully tearing into his profane lead role like an untamed wolf that just got its first taste of meat. For Law, it's a chance for him to let loose with a character like never really before. And he most certainly does, with big, audaciously compelling results. The rest of the movie, unfortunately, has a hard time getting on his level, but can you really blame it?
Published April 16, 2014
You never know where you might meet your future bandmates. Maybe you'll meet them through a mutual friend. Maybe it'll be a chance meeting in a railway station. Maybe you'll meet them half a world away. That certainly wasn't the case with Milwaukee rock outfit Commander Tang. In fact, George Phillips didn't even have to leave his front lawn or his Washington Heights block.
Published April 15, 2014
"Sabotage" finds Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly pushing his persona in a new direction. It's not simply that the film is unexpectedly more murder mystery than action thriller; "Sabotage" is easily the meanest, most vulgar and most violent movie on Arnold's resume. Credit where credit is due for trying something new, but considering the film's brainlessly scummy ugliness, it qualifies merely as a not-quite-noble failure.
Published April 15, 2014
Even though Corey Pieper's latest single "One More Time" isn't conventional Milwaukee, it's obvious the up-and-coming pop singer has love for his home city. The musician namedrops "the 414" near the beginning of the track, and the regional callouts - along with shout outs to his Hawaiian heritage - aren't merely for show.
Published April 14, 2014
When Wake Owl first arrived in town, they were at the bottom of a three-band bill at the Cactus Club with their freshly released debut EP, "Wild Country." Since then, their crowds and popularity have only grown, moving up to a $10 Pabst Pub gig last June and now a Friday night headliner gig at Turner Hall Ballroom. And instead of a five-song EP, Cameron and company arrive with a brand new full album, "The Private World of Paradise."
Published April 13, 2014
Much like the first movie, "Rio 2" is colorful and vibrant and cracks a few good jokes here or there. It's a generally enjoyable film, albeit one that feels like several animated features audiences have seen and forgotten long before.
Published April 11, 2014
"Draft Day" is an ad, less for the NFL Draft - though it is conveniently coming up in just a month - and more for the league itself. It's a hopeful attempt to get people to mindlessly consume a sport that's becoming more and more difficult to mindlessly consume. The mildly impressive thing is that, under "Ghostbusters" helmer Ivan Reitman's eye, the light, fluffy football trifle goes down almost as easily as designed.
Published April 9, 2014
Milwaukee got its first taste of TED last year with a TEDx conference - a local, self-organized talk event, run independently but guided from afar by TED - in Harambee. And now, thanks to some ambitious students at UWM, it seems the city will get a second taste of TED.
Published April 8, 2014
A small wooden and plastic model of a stage has now graduated into a full stage, lit with lights and bright, colorful, comic book influenced projections. Superglue will no longer be necessary to keep it together. Now, the stage merely waits for its actors, an audience and a story to unfold. That story is writer David Bar Katz's "The History of Invulnerability," the story of Jerry Siegel and his famous creation: Superman.
Published April 8, 2014
Edward Albee's one-act drama "Zoo Story" is a fairly small production. After all, it features merely two actors, one set - a park - and one necessary set item, a park bench. For the upcoming staging at Marquette University, however, director Grace DeWolffe is working with much more than merely two guys and a bench. In fact, she's got $1.5 million worth of technology to bring her show to life.