Swift shot: I spent half the film nitpicking stupid decisions by the bad guys. I wanted to really like this one more. I just didn’t. It was derivative and not really that original, but unlike The Hangover [formula films] this formula needed something special to make it more than just a tacked-on extension of the first film. Taken 2 takes you to Istanbul, and thankfully it’s a short trip at a 91 minute run time, because there really wasn’t much of a story to tell. The Albanians that were, rightfully tortured and killed by Byran Mills (Neeson) seek revenge. The father of the guy who was left to fry, Marko, wants to bring the Mills family back to Tropoje, Albania to be humiliated and slowly killed in front of their clan.
I guess, somewhere we are supposed to feel a tiny bit of empathy for the father, Murad (Rade Serbedzija) because his son was killed. But, his son was a God-damned monster! At some point you have to say, enough is enough. Still, these particular Albanians are monsters themselves, probably their whole clan, as they butter their bread on the backs of selling white-slaves into the sex industry across Eastern Europe.
The story is that Bryan’s ex-wfe, Lenore (Famke Janssen) is newly single, having been unceremoniously dumped by her new husband (who gives a shit what his name was, as he wasn’t even shown on screen) and their daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) has failed her driving test, twice. Kim, who went through an unspeakable ordeal seems to be coping well after her trauma – too well, if you ask me. I got a pysch minor from Flagler College, and I can tell you that poor girl would be really, really messed up. I’m not sure where her diagnosis would fall in the DSM-IV, but I can assure you simply getting up in the morning and putting on clothes, eating, showering, everything would be a process that she would have to re-learn . . . haunted by anxiety, at the very least. Oh, sure, she is her dad’s daughter, so I guess she is made of stern stuff, but I felt her character was a little too adept given her unfortunate situation in the first film. In one scene I call, catch the frags, you’ll see what I mean! Also, I might have missed it, but I didn’t catch how much time had elapsed between the films. In real life, you had four years, so you would think the film-makers would have been more original in the story. Sorry.
So, all the family ends up in Istanbul, and the bad guys are set to capture them all, but the plan doesn’t work out very well. And, in a cheesy as fuck moment, Bryan is somehow granted permission to speak to his daughter long enough to tell her, “We are about to be taken.” Because, you know, vicious Albanians are accommodating like that! I was stationed in Durres in 1999, I know when I say that if an Albanian crime-lord wanted you to be taken, he wouldn’t let you make a damned phone call. And, spare me the “they needed him alive” BS, because they could have shot him in the foot, or at least shot his hand holding the cell phone – something other than just standing there as he reaches out and touches someone. Also, without really giving anything away, they manage to capture him and lock him in a room, where they post an inept guard OUTSIDE the door . . . who manages to fiddle with his gun and do not much else. To say this crew of Albanians were fuck-ups is not adequate – they were fuck-downs.
As you probably guessed, Bryan uses this solitude to his advantage. Inept bad guys are par for the course in action films, I get that, but when they stand around, conventionally allowing the hero to act, it pisses me off, because it takes me right out of the film, and right into critic mode. I was in critic mode a lot during Taken 2.
When I was in the Marines we used something called the Line program, it was a martial art style designed to use a lot of wrist-locks, opponents momentum and abilities against them, similar to Judo. Whatever martial arts were incorporated in Taken 2, reminded me a lot of the Line Program. One particular toe-to-toe fight to the death on a pedestal (reminiscent of Flash Gordon, anyone?) was pretty cool. I must admit, the action was intense throughout the film, as you would expect from a Luc Besson flick.
The hand to hand combat sequences are really well done, and at full speed, which is impressive. You can tell they didn’t take any easy routes, the training must have been intense to get each fight sequence to appear genuine. The chase sequences were also well executed, with foot chases, escapes and car chases all through small roads in Istanbul . . . all with a reluctant driver at the wheel. Not to give too much away, but that sequence had a nice bit of comedy for anyone who has ever had to instruct someone how to drive.
The final sequence of the film was as tacky as the rest of the film. And in the end when Bryan remarks, “I will have to kill your other sons too.” And his target agrees, well, let’s just say the Albanians aren’t exactly known for live and let live. So, yea, he’s gonna have to basically engage in progenicide to end this whole nightmare for his family.
When Bryan got to showcase his skills, I liked that. Whatever it is he does, obviously it is for the government, or he used to work for them or something, now he is a personal security attache type for hire. I would like to see a Taken 3 where we see him just “on the job” with his team, maybe rescuing someone else’s daughter this time, like a President’s, a King’s, or hey, maybe even a celebrity who could play herself? I am just tired of the whole, “they are after my family” routine. In real life the villagers in Tropoje who had the misfortune of being in the family that has a blood feud on the Mills would have to be cleansed. But, this isn’t real life, so maybe we can just skip all this Albanian vengeance crap. Or, I guess Taken 3 will just be yet another extension where the Tropoje clan goes after his family, yet again. But, who will make the call, or who will the call be made to this time, the family cat? Kim’s boyfriend? I can hear it now, “Bryan, this is the cat, in five minutes, I will be taken by the neighbor’s dog.” Yea, I’m over that bit!
Make the next Taken original, or I won’t be takin’ my butt to the screening!