The Reel: ‘Taken 2’ offers nothing new to viewers

Ben Conniff

From the outside looking in, “Taken 2” is everything that’s wrong with Hollywood. At the end of “Taken,” the story seems pretty well-concluded with no setup for future sequels.

After finally seeing “Taken 2,” I’ve decided my assertions were correct. This is an unnecessary sequel that’s nothing more than a ploy to make a few extra bucks at the box office. The film is just a re-hash of the same thrills from its 2008 predecessor with Liam Neeson as the butt-kicking, name-taking dad of the year.

While “Taken” told the thrilling story of one man’s daring crusade to rescue his kidnapped daughter from traffickers in Paris, the sequel again follows our hero Bryan Mills (Neeson) and his family (Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace) on a trip to Istanbul, where they are targeted by the father of one of the deceased from the first film (Rade Serbedzija).

Except this time, it’s BRYAN who’s kidnapped along with his wife Lenore (Janssen), leaving daughter Kim (Grace) to fend for herself until Bryan can catch up with her. Once she’s safe, Neeson switches roles from daddy to ex-husband of the year, as he goes on a solo tear for only the film’s last half hour trying to get his ex-wife back.

Much of the action is edited in such a frenetic way; it’s difficult to tell what exactly is going on. “Taken 2” also features a script with so many plot holes, it might as well be inscribed on Swiss cheese.

One of them is the setup at the beginning for the film’s villain (Serbedzija), who turns out to be incredibly weak. In the prologue, he swears to get revenge on Mills for causing so much pain and sorrow in his Albanian village of Tropoja after killing the town’s sons, husbands and brothers in “Taken.” So the plan is to round up more of Tropoja’s sons, husbands and brothers for the slaughter? I mean, does this guy honestly think he’s going to succeed against a trained killer with everything to lose?

It’s a flimsy excuse to line up more bad guys for Neeson to beat up. Two bad writers, Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, were so preoccupied with making the action bigger that they forgot to develop the characters or any semblance of a decent story.

Another thing that earns “Taken 2” a resounding “Ehh” is that there’s nothing new to see here. What made the first movie so great was that we got to see a man who’s trying to live a quiet, retired life be called into action when he’s suddenly faced with a parent’s worst nightmare. 

“Taken” soared on the wings of Liam Neeson’s brooding performance, and it was this performance that made the action so much fun to watch. The sequel just has more of the exact same. No surprises, no twists, just a display of the same chases, gunplay and fist fights that we’ve all seen before.

Now “Taken 2” features promising elements that could’ve been great, but they end up squandered. These include the villain, some clever nods to the first movie, and the improved relationship between Bryan and Lenore. Certainly “Taken 3” will give us some sort of closure there. That’s not to say a third film is necessary, but at this point, why stop now? The franchise is a cash cow, raking in a combined total of just under $600 million at the worldwide box office, according to IMDb estimates.