Taken 2 (2012) — Revenge begets revenge

“I’ll be fine. It’s the guys following us who are about to have a problem.”

Justin’s rating: This really is just a big-budget Drivers Ed instructional video. You’ll see.

Justin’s review: Probably for both Hollywood and movie audiences everywhere, 2008’s Taken was a genuine surprise that came out of nowhere to be an intriguing action flick with some juicy payback. People really did like seeing a gaunt middle-aged Liam Neeson turn out to be some sort of CIA MacGyver who uses his “special set of skills” (murder, torture, and French hair braiding) to rescue his kidnapped daughter. But it wasn’t really the sort of thing that studios could pull off for a second time, right?

No, they did it two more times. No good success story in Hollywood is left without suffering the travails of unnecessary sequels.

And thus we get to Taken 2, where the stakes are both higher and lower than before. It turns out that the dad of some of the guys killed in the first movie is genuinely grieved that his sex trafficking kids are dead, and so he plans a revenge plot that involves kidnapping Bryan Mills, his ex-wife, and their daughter while in Istanbul.

That’s not Constantinople, by the way. It’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

So thus we have a messy and prolonged kidnapping recovery, with audiences just waiting for Bryan to turn the tables and kill everyone with extreme prejudice. Like I said, the stakes are both higher and lower — higher because there are three potential kidnapees now, but lower because all of this feels like a single action sequence of any other movie stretched out into two hours here.

And boy is there some serious padding going on, the worst of which being a long car chase where Kim’s driving and Bryan is shouting in her ear like a demented Drivers Ed instructor. It’s here that we learn that Kim’s all-time favorite phrase is “I can’t!” as in, “Kim, go faster!” “I can’t!” and then she goes faster anyway. She must’ve shouted “I can’t!” about twenty-three times during this scene alone. I blame the screenwriters abusing the cut-and-paste function.

The fun of the first movie was seeing Bryan unpack all of his mental CIA training to use it in this complex situation, and while there is some of that here, it’s kind of dull. I really think this whole concept was a one-trick pony that didn’t have enough in it to gallop around the rest of the track. Taken 2 is passable but not necessary.

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