Published Thursday, 04 October 2012
Set in Istanbul, will this much anticipated sequel be a Turkish delight or a disappointing turkey?
Taken 2 begins a world away from a fast paced thriller in a sunny and sedate Los Angeles, with doting Dad Bryan taking his dearest daughter Kim (played by Maggie Grace) for a 2pm driving lesson.
Please wake me up when they are done. Kim, of course, is not at home when Daddy arrives but shacked up with her new boyfriend and unprepared for the road ahead. The reason for this oddly pedestrian opening only becomes apparent later when they engage in a high speed car chase through the backstreets of Istanbul. But unfortunately it is nearly thirty minutes in before we experience any kind of suspense. Never mind Taken, I needed wakened.
We are finally stirred from our slumber when the family go for a jolly holiday to the stunning Turkish city of Istanbul. Though quite why ex-wife Lenore (played by Famke Janssen) agrees to go is beyond me and surely traumatised traveller Kim would think twice before ever going abroad again.
Not so, and the happy family are soon on the banks of the mighty Bosphorus river, where East meets West, where Europe meets Asia and where the wholesome Mills clan meet their wicked abductors again.
"Don't play the hero with me" Albanian gang leader Murad (Rade Serbedzija) tells Bryan Mills. This time, it is he who is the vengeful father, as his beloved son Marko was one of the failed and fallen kidnappers in Paris. The fact that Marko was a creep, pimp and psychopath doesn't deter Murad and the leather clad henchmen of their Albanian village from seeking revenge.
Suddenly, Taken 2 kicks into gear with the neat twist of father and mother Mills as the kidnapped and daughter Kim as their saviour. But still, even though he is chained in the villains lair, Bryan is able to use all his perceptive senses and expert training to engineer an escape.
In one hilarious scene, in order to pinpoint his secret location, he asks Kim to hurl a hand grenade out of a hotel window. As you do, ha! Famously, Bruno Mars sang he would catch a grenade for you. Bryan Mills and family would go further and chuck one right at you!
"When a dog has a bone" snarls Bryan Mills "the last thing you want to do is try and take it from him." Liam Neeson, back in the role that revived his career, is simply a colossus on screen.
His formidable presence is now of an all action superstar who walks like John Wayne and talks like Clint Eastwood. It is he, and he alone who elevates this inferior sequel.
But a quickly conceived sequel was always likely to struggle; Taken 2, taken to where? Taken to the cleaners? In the original movie, Bryan Mills had 96 hours to save his daughter, in the sequel it seems like they have spent 96 minutes on the script.
Let's hope this feeble reprise ends the Taken franchise before we get Taken 4 a ride.
Taken 2 (Cert 12a) is now on general release.