Pretty much the same as the first movie except with more taking and throat punching, Taken 2 is roughly what you would expect.
Continuing the story from the original film, Taken 2 finds Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) finishing up a security job in Istanbul when his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) show up for a vacation. Unfortunately, the father of a man Mills tortured to death in the first movie shows up with a bunch of thugs to take revenge against Mills by kidnapping him and his family with a plan to torture Kim and Lenore to death in front of him and then torture him to death as slowly as humanly possible. When Lenore and Mills are taken, Kim manages to hide and Mills uses her to help him escape so he can deliver his brand of two fisted justice to everyone who needs their trachea caved in.
I have to come clean here, there really isn’t much actual throat punching in the movie but after the first movie I feel like any Neeson punch should be considered a throat punch. It is sort of his thing and a punch to the chest is at least 10% more brutal if it is a THROAT punch to the chest. Despite few of them landing in the throat, these are some of the throatiest punches of Neeson’s career.
It has taken me awhile to review Taken 2 because there is only so much you can really say about it. In that time I have noticed a lot of hate for the movie amongst critics and the more stuck up of movie goers. I was told that a critic wrote that it was comparable to Jaws: the Revenge and I think that is really uncalled for. I wouldn’t compare my worst enemies to Jaws: the Revenge. I wouldn’t even compare most natural disasters to Jaws: the Revenge so I think it is a bit of a stretch to suggest that Taken 2 is anything at all like Jaws: the Revenge. If Mario Van Peebles tortured Mills for 15 minutes with his Jamaican accent while a shark roared in the background, then sure I would consider it a valid comparison but honestly nothing in Taken 2 is anywhere near as bad as Jaws: the Revenge.
I would understand hating Taken 2 if the hater in question also hated the bountiful glory that was the first Taken but what really baffles me are those people who loved the first one but put the brakes on the second because it was ludicrous, unrealistic and confusing. I don’t get that. The plot could literally not be simpler. Bad guys take Mills and ex wife. Daughter helps Mills escape, Mills kills everyone. That is pretty much it. There is no nuance or twist here. It is simple. Shake the bear and then watch the bear ruin shit. That is one of the things that made the first movie so great. There was no pretense of a meaningful story, it was just sex traffickers nab the wrong guy’s daughter and that guy collects his fee out of their asses. This is what happens again in Taken 2 only this time his daughter helps him out a bit and drives in a car chase while they try to get to the US Embassy. I have a hard time understanding how this is some how more ridiculous than anything that happens in the first Taken.
I am not saying that any of this is plausible or realistic but if I wanted plausible and realistic I wouldn’t be in the audience for these movies in the first place. The whole point to watch Mills wreak havoc on a bunch of bad guys. It is true enough that Mills is marginally less intense here but I think that is just because there is no reason for him to shoot his old friend’s wife in the legs to get information or to electro torture a guy to death with metal spikes because he already knows were his daughter is. Maybe that is what people are missing but I was fine seeing him use his brains to figure things out and being enough of a bad ass that he allows himself to be caught because he can just escape later and have a better advantage.
I liked the first Taken more than the second mostly because it really surprised me. I had no idea what I was in for and mild mannered Neeson was such a badass that I was shocked and delighted. Brian Mills is essentially the new John McClane in that he looks like a mild mannered every man but he happens to be incredibly capable of tearing new assholes out of dudes who obviously need more than one. Watching this new Taken was kind of like going through the motions to an extent so the excitement of it was diminished a bit. It was still shot well with well choreographed action but some of the luster was lost in the rehashing. There is a recurring theme of Mills being tired of all the killing and that is passed on to the audience as well. So we are in a diminishing returns situation here but for me, those returns still kick an awful lot of ass.
Conclusion [8.0 out of 10]
Your mileage may vary on this one depending on how much you enjoy straight action movies. If you don’t like nonsensical violence for the sake of nonsensical violence then stay very far away and go see something with more words in it. If you want to see pretty much the same movie as last time with slightly less torture and more Maggie Grace looking tentative while throwing grenades then you are in good hands here. I felt like this movie hit pretty much the right tone and balance of action and as such I enjoyed quite a bit. It is not to be taken (sorry) seriously but rather to be enjoyed for what it is. If you are into that then you are in for a throat punchingly good time.