It’s nice to have Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) for a father, as Kim (Maggie Grace) learned after being nearly sold into sex trafficking – before good old dad rescued her – in Taken. The Mills father-daughter duo get an even better “bonding experience” in Taken 2, when they team to save Kim’s mom (Famke Janssen) after she is kidnapped by a vengeful criminal (Rade Sherbedgia), whose son was killed by Mills in the first film.
Liam Neeson introduces the Web-exclusive trailer for Taken 2, which, by and large recycles footage from previous trailers – but still includes some memorable action beats, such as a car chase that culminates with an explosive train collision.
The “missing scene” Neeson mentions near the end takes on the form of chopped-up footage – included at the conclusion of the above trailer – from a scene where Mills contacts Kim by cell phone, after he and his ex-wife has been captured. It turns out all Bryan Mills needs to determine his exact location is a map, a marker, and a grenade (take that, Bruce Wayne).
Screenwriters Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson (the latter also produced) have found a clever means for incorporating a female empowerment angle into Taken 2, without causing the film’s protagonist to lose his edge (which happens all too often in sequels). Grace seems convincing as Kim gradually discovers her inner badass – though, the scenes where she’s suddenly (?) leap-frogging across rooftops like Daniel Craig’s James Bond might strain credibility.
Similarly, as much as Taken 2 is pushing to repeat the success of its predecessor, its narrative setup and twists are less contrived than the plot excuses have been for other action movie sequels in the past (Die Hard 2, Under Siege 2, etc.). By comparison, Taken 2 offers a more organic explanation for why Mills is hanging out in Europe again – not to mention, how his loved ones also end up in Istanbul.
Olivier Megaton held the directorial reigns on Taken 2, marking his third excursion working on a project co-written and produced by Besson, after Transporter 3 and Colombiana. Those films have been criticized for featuring generic stunts and uninventive set pieces – but, on the other hand, they are still arguably competent action flicks on their own, as far as the execution goes.
If nothing else, though, there is always some fun to be had watching Neeson use his “certain set of skills” on the big screen.
Taken 2 opens in U.S. theaters on October 5th, 2012.