After the worldwide $226m financial success of Taken, and the unexpected discovery of Liam Neeson as an uncompromising action hero, it’s no great surprise to see County Antrem’s finest return for another one man rescue act.
Following the classic ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ maxim, foreigners are still bad, the good guy saving his family is still ridiculously outnumbered but the overall effect is a languid sequel displaying far less imagination.
The film opens with the same deliberate setting-the-scene pace as the original. We head to the green mountains of Albania to witness the funerals of those killed from the first film, and vengeance being sworn cartoon style. “We will have our revenge!” says Murad (Rade Šerbedžija), head of the group of surviving relatives, who plan to avenge their deaths by taking out Brian and his family.
Meanwhile, back in LA, former CIA Operative Brian’s (Neeson) ex wife Lenore (Famke Jansen) is splitting up with her wealthy husband, while his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) has a new boyfriend and is nervous about failing her driving test again.
The pace quickens once Brian heads to Istanbul for a work assignment and, despite initially having refused, his ex-wife and daughter decide to surpise him and join him there. Kim tries to rekindle her parents’ romance by staying in the hotel pool and leaving them the two of them to head out to town. The Armenians been watching Brian while this has been happening and are ready to execute their plan. They kidnap him and his wife but despite being tied up Brian is able to call his daughter through a device hidden in his shoe to warn her. Kim really shows herself to be her father’s daughter by this point as she is able to follow his MacGuyver like instructions and locate him after an exhilarating rooftop chase. Cue some more action, including a lengthy and uninspiring car chase, the search for Brian’s wife and an anticlimactic scene when Brian comes face to face with an underwhelming Šerbedžija.
It’s all rather disappointing. Whereas the original had the surprise element of a family man revealing himself to have an exceptional sense of resourcefulness, impressive combat skills and ruthless attitude to enemies, this film adds little. Instead of the sinister, well organised inside, there is no great sense of planning or conspiracy this time from the bad guys this time, seemingly relying on numerical advantage and surprise attack. There is a new director, (the awesomely named Olivier Megaton) but very little originality and it feels like an inferior retread. This time there is no memorable “I will hunt you down and I will kill you” type speech, the action is all hurriedly edited and clumsily shot, no intensity with any the villains and memorable death scenes.
In succeeding in getting the film down to 12 from a 15 four years ago with Taken, the film aims for a wider audience but ends up forgetting why most of us liked the original. Anyone thinking this film will be anyway better than the first film will be the ones Taken in.