Liam Neeson reprises his role as the bad ass super-agent/loving family man in Olivier Megaton’s Taken 2. This time around Taken director Pierre Morel steps aside, while Luc Besson continues as writer/producer, allowing Megaton to completely ruin what could have been a mildly entertaining sequel. As it stands Taken 2 is poorly cut, sloppily directed and most importantly, a gigantic waste of time. There’s literally nothing in Taken 2 that you haven’t seen before.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is unexpectedly called to duty yet again, with the kidnapping of himself and his wife. This time around the fathers of the men that Mills slayed during his daughter’s kidnapping want revenge and they’ve decided to not only take it out on Mills, but his entire family. He just so happens to invite them to both travel with him while he does a little bit of body-guarding business. This is incredibly convenient for the nameless group of baddies, because now they don’t need to waste too much time assembling the family for their revenge session.
This unfortunately doesn’t do the story any favors, leaving Taken 2‘s opening moments completely lifeless and lacking of any real tension. We’ve seen the setup before and now we’re forced to sit through it again, only through the eyes of the sporadic and flavorless director Olivier Megaton. There has yet to be an action film Megaton has made that sparks with the tiniest bit of creativity and he continues to live up to his disappointing name by giving Taken 2 a heavy dose of quick cuts and zoomed-in action shots.
Fighting sequences are barely watchable and when they do present themselves as something worthy of watching you’ll quickly be pushed back by the PG-13 approach used yet again for what should be R-rated action material. Don’t worry though, because they’ve gone back and reinserted some poor CGI blood to make it look better when viewing the Unrated Cut.
Taken was rough around the edges, but it excelled because of director Pierre Morel’s gritty visuals and bone-crunching action sequences. Morel made an action hero out of Liam Neeson and Neeson backed that up with a believable set of skills that no man would ever dare to cross. I enjoyed Taken very much, but I still think that it’s a complete stroke of luck. I knew it would be impossible to duplicate with the same results and the hiring of Olivier Megaton only helped back my claims.
Megaton is one of the blandest action directors working today and he approaches Taken 2 like the rest of his films, which is with a flashy eye and not much of anything else. Taken 2 occasionally looks sharp and glossy, but the actual story is a barren wasteland of genre clichés.
Megaton’s visuals heighten the films presentation. Forced grain and grit is evenly distributed over the film and it makes for an image that’s well-balanced and colorful, but never too clean or compressed. I personally thought the look of the film was off-putting, especially when compared to the first, but if we’re judging purely on the director’s intention I’d say Taken 2 mostly soars.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track isn’t as bombarded with gunfire and throat-chopping as I’d hoped. It presents the dialogue with a clean urgency, but most of the action is played out in a fairly repetitive nature. Gunshots ricochet off the front and back channels almost always in the same way. There’s not a lot of surprises to be found on this track.
Here’s a list of bonus content found on the disc:
- Theatrical & Unrated cuts of the film.
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Alternate Ending (HD)
- Black Ops Field Manual (Unrated Version Only)
- Sam’s Tools of the Trade (HD)
- FX Movie Channel Presents In Character with Liam Neeson (SD)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD)
- Sneak Peek (HD)
- DVD Copy
- Digital Copy
If you found any enjoyment in Taken whatsoever I’d strongly suggest simply popping in that disc and watching it again, because Taken 2 isn’t even good enough to be considered more of the same. Its sole existence is to be a scene-for-scene rehash of the original film, only with certain supporting characters mixed around and even more enemies for Mills to take on. But Taken 2 doesn’t even manage to up the stakes one bit, even if the story claims to be doing so.
It’s just a cash-grab that has no intentions of continuing the character in any way. The PG-13 rating really weighs this one down and the advertised Unrated Cut isn’t actually that much different than the Theatrical version, which is a disappointment that I was expecting.
Olivier Megaton needs to stay far away from directing action films, because his work on Taken 2 and a dozen other movies that had potential have proven that he cannot be trusted with a budget, a cast of good actors or even a script.