‘Taken 2′ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 18th, 2014 at 4:14 am,

Liam Neeson Taken 2 Taken 2 Review

The sequel is dominated by eye-rolling character moments, disjointed plot lines, and mostly underwhelming onscreen action. As a result, it’s unlikely that moviegoers will be quite as Taken.

Liam Neeson is back as retired CIA Operative, Bryan Mills in Taken 2. In 2008, director Pierre Morel, working from a Luc Besson script, helped cement the actor’s credibility as a go-to action star with the original Taken. Unlike his heroic adventures in franchise films like Star Wars: Episode 1 and Batman Begins, Taken put Neeson front and center in a storyline that would succeed or fail based on the actor’s ability to remain likable and engaging – while his character ruthlessly killed and/or tortured a steady stream of bad guys. A smart story, paired with Neeson’s charm and Mills’ unrelenting brutality proved to be a winning combination for audiences.

Can director Olivier Megaton capture the same balance of thrilling action and engaging character drama – dispelling concerns that Taken 2 is an unnecessary sequel attempting to extend an already thin set-up?

Unfortunately, Taken 2 is mostly an empty retread that, despite some high-octane action scenes, fails to live up to the successes of its predecessor in every single way. The story is less engaging, character dynamics are less believable, and (worst of all) action set-pieces are less thrilling. Where as the original allowed for a steadily unfolding mystery, Taken 2 features a dizzying back and forth mishmash of story beats that fail to deliver a satisfying climax – and rely heavily on “flashy” moments that lack any real substance. That said, the film isn’t a total misfire and despite underwhelming connections to the original, action fans who merely want to see Neeson snap necks and crash cars will likely find the Taken sequel to be a competent thriller.

Taken 2 builds directly on the story from Taken – forcing a face to face confrontation between Mills and the fathers/brothers of the countless Albanian human traffickers that he killed in the first franchise outing. After his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lennie (Famke Janssen) are abandoned by Lennie’s husband, Stuart (Xander Berkeley in the original film), Mills plans for the pair to meet him in Istanbul – after he completes a high-paying security job. However, when Kim and Lennie arrive, Murad Hoxha (Rade Šerbedžija), Chief of the Albanian Mafia, uses the family vacation as an opportunity for revenge – kidnapping Mills and his loved ones.

Liam Neeson Maggie Grace Taken 2 Taken 2 Review

Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace in ‘Taken 2′

As mentioned, instead of progressing the Bryan Mills story and character forward – Taken 2 actually undercuts the nuances of the original film and turns the lethal family man into somewhat of a cliche this round, evidenced by nearly every scene he shares with Kim and Lennie before the abduction. This isn’t to say that Neeson doesn’t deliver or that Mills is no longer likable but, instead of showing audiences a continuation of the unique family dynamic established in Taken, Taken 2 repackages the characters into a “tidier” set of circumstances – to sell Mills’ heightened desperation this round.

Similarly, instead of upping the ante, forcing Mills to save both his daughter and Lennie creates more narrative hurdles than it succeeds in paying off. The result is a disjointed narrative ride that moves characters around haphazardly – causing a lot of physical backtracking and, as indicated earlier, a climax that falls short of excitement established in earlier scenes (as well as leaves one precarious thread dangling). In an effort to expand the stakes and the scope of the film, Megaton undermines one of the fundamental strengths that audiences responded to in the original – that, through sheer will, training, and drive, Mills succeeded in finding his way from point A to B to C. This time, while the character rushes around creating and putting out fires, a number of the plot points are actually remedied by convenience and chance.

The expanded roles for both Grace and Janssen offer little in the moment to moment enjoyment of the film – as the larger family story is often melodramatic and relies heavily on familiar platitudes. Viewers who thought Grace was too old in 2008 to be playing a naive teenager will have an especially difficult time rectifying her personal story this round (now that the actress is 29) – i.e. driving lessons and her first serious boyfriend. The initial introduction of her arc has promise (as she attempts to remember “being normal”) and some of the Mills/Kim action sequences add a fresh dynamic to the “one man army” approach of the first movie but, considering all the screen time dedicated to Kim, most audiences will quickly tire of the film’s attempt to utilize Grace – since watching Neeson is significantly more interesting. Janssen’s Lennie is even less compelling – with little to do but serve as the film’s living macguffin.

Liam Neeson Fight Taken 2 Taken 2 Review

Father of the Year Bryan Mills (Neeson) in action.

As mentioned, despite failing to hit the bar set in the original, and downright undercutting some of the more interesting character and story dynamics, Taken 2 does include its fair share of slick action. An alleyway care chase is easily a standout sequence as is a lengthy fist fight between Neeson and one of the primary antagonists. In these moments, Taken 2 manages to lock into some of the Taken magic – presenting the audience with memorable onscreen action. Still, while Neeson is convincing in his choreographed scenes, the fistfights are harder to enjoy this time – since Megaton chose to employ a lot of shaky cam and second-to-second action cuts. Ultimately, few of the film’s fight shots last longer than a second – delivering a pretty choppy experience even during the better set pieces.

Taken 2 is by no means a bad film. However, in an attempt to cash in on a successful standalone movie, the filmmakers have stretched the straightforward Taken premise and delivered an entirely unnecessary sequel. Action lovers may find enough to like in Taken 2 but, for moviegoers expecting a smart continuation on par with the original Taken, the sequel is dominated by eye-rolling character moments, disjointed plot lines, and mostly underwhelming onscreen action. As a result, it’s unlikely that moviegoers will be quite as Taken by the experience this time.

If you’re still on the fence about Taken 2, check out the trailer below:

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Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant team check out the Taken 2 episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Taken 2 is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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TAGS: taken, taken 2

111 Comments

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  1. It was good, so you all can suck it ..

  2. It was good, so you all can suck it .

    • It was b*******.I don’t know why he didn’t use Eastern Europeans actors(other than the father of Marko).Everybody else looked Middle Estern.All dark skin and beards.None of them looked albanian.Also a simple search shows you that mostly in Northern Albania(including Tropoja) are catholic,not muslims like they show in the movie.And someone like Marko’s father with a lot of resources,what the hell was he doing living in middle of no where,nonsense.They also spoke arabic when they meet in Instabul.No albanian speaks arabic.It is an insult for albanians.Knowing what Brian did them before,how they let him by himself giving him the chance to get free?They know they were not dealing with amateurs.Don’t make sense at all.Very poorly made.I know is a movie,but still if you want to be successful you have to make it more believable. Taken one was a very good movie with a lot of things that make sense,but Taken 2 was nowhere close.Waste of time.

    • I concur. Just watch it with an open mind, then it is just as good and badass as the first. Awesome. 4.5 stars.

  3. Yeah I dont know if we watched the same movie or if every critic decided to unequally like the movie as a sign of solidarity. Movie was great…damn near as good or better then the first in some aspects.

    Again I dont know if we saw the same movie….but maybe having to watch too many terrible movies over the last year has left critics at screenrant with sour lemons in their mouths lol….obviously the people dident like this movie have a tainted view.

    • I agree with you it was as good or better than the first. This reviewer must be the same one that gave “Looper” high marks since it sucked.

    • Do elaborate on “in some aspects.” because l can’t point to a single moment when this was better then the first movie

  4. I gave it 4 stars… *****SPOILER ALERT********
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    my only beef was little maggies head scratching sudden knowledge of how to plot a map (Let alone navigate through a foreign city, with blazing fast accuracy lol…all the while dropping grenades close enough that she should have been killed or severly injured from shrapnel at the least.

    I served in the Army for 11 years and night land navigation was my one of my skill sets. it usually takes the average soldier 1 to 2 weeks to properly learn how to navigate and plot points on a map….obviously maggie is skilled because she learned in 2 minutes(sarcasm)

    Also the soldiers actions were somewhat believable. Soldiers are trained to indentify a threat & follow steps of escalation. Most soldiers are taught to take out the engine block first, which they did.

    • Yeah right, the American Forces just do nothing. Like hell!
      HOw did Mills get out of the Embasy without the Army questioning him and not even giving him help?

      Helloooo? LIke American Army would do that! they keep on meddling on other’s business

      • Kim’s character is not a bit stretched. It is possible that she knows how to plot coordinates. Hell I can even do that specially if his OCD dad is giving her adequate and detailed instructions.

        Regarding the army. I’m sure he is questioned but of course it is not a scene we need to see. And furthermore, though he is a former CIA, he will always be a CIA and I’m sure connections work here.

        What the movie lacks is a strong villain. Audience normally root for the underdog. Bryan Mills is practically a God and his villains on this film didn’t hardly gave him any hard time.

        But despite the mediocrity of this sequel, I still hunger for s sequel. And I wish they make this an intense finale. I have a feeling he will be going head to head with the American Government now that they will realize that he is a very dangerous one man army. probably he will be Taken by the CIA themselves. Let’s cross our fingers.

    • y did u give 4 cos its pretty good but its sometimes s***

  5. I wasn’t going to see this movie at all because of all the negative reviews but then ended up seeing it anyways just because a lot of my friends were saying it’s a good movie, just not as good as the 1st one. I ended up giving in and seeing it last night. Although it’s not as intense, non-stop glued to the screen awesomeness as the first one it’s still a good movie. I’d give it a 3 out of 5. The script/plot wasn’t all that great along with the chemistry with other characters. Is the movie as bad as Total Recall though? Not at all which is why I rate it higher than Total Recall. At least this movie still kept me entertained and the action sequences, although not as great as the first movie, was pretty good. I would say if you’re a die hard Neeson fan then you should still enjoy this movie.

  6. Taken is one of those movies where they are sooo good and bad-ass it should not get a sequel. Thats why its 2.5/5 it should never get a sequel if they make a part 3 im gonna kill someone

    • Just make sure to take them first!

  7. Follow on movies seldom score as well as the original with a few notable exceptions like Aliens. Taken 2 seems to have joined that select group.
    The film is fast paced with few leaps into obvious fantasy. Liam Neeson turns in a good performance and Famke Janssen is a main character throughout the whole show. There’s a really bitchin’ chase scene (two actually) that keep you on the edge of your seat.
    I had to pee fifteen minutes into the movie, but held it until the end it was that good.
    No T or A, no cursing, but a whole buncha violence of the good kind with bad guys falling left and right.
    You do need to see Taken first as there are many references to it in this one. All in all, a really good show!
    3.5 out of 5.

    • your comment about aliens jumped out at me….you’re dead on, that was the best sequel ever…..taken 2 though i would disagree with you..it was very good…i say a B+…..the first taken an A+….

  8. I really like Taken.

  9. This movie was awful. It’s hard to know where to begin. I think the author of this article give it too much credit by saying it’s not a “bad” movie, because it is much closer to unwatchable.

    First, the action scenes are barely watchable, as the shaky cam robs you of any sense of coherence.
    Second, how about a menacing bad guy for the pre-final conflict. We get a short, fat guy in a jump suit that can somehow beat Neesons ass, and then the old guy who can’t even trouble himself with a gun. LAME.
    Third, fire your sound effects guy, or at least buy him some celery. No crunches or snaps for a single necksnap or arm/leg break in a single fight scene. May not be realistic, but required for any film like this.
    Fourth, Grenades to locate your position? Seriously? Give me a break. It would have been more believable to have Neeson navigate his daughter via his memory and knowledge of the city. FAIL.
    Fifth, two failed drivers tests, yet Grace can navigate during a high speed car chase while ramming other cars and doing spinouts…oh yeah, and she is driving stick!! NO WAY. Too much disbelieve to suspend. Drop the fact that she failed her test twice and I’ll give you a pass.
    Six, Lrn2CellPh0n3. In every scene with an iPhone, it clearly says NO SERVICE on the phone. LOL..blatant movie mistake fail right there.
    Seventh, fire your editor. Neeson wakes up his wife twice at the end of the movie with what appears to be the exact same scene. I suspect this was a change in script with the ending to allow for another potential sequel. He should have dealt with “Final Bad” and then went to his wife, or vice versa. No need for double takes.
    Eighth, SHAMELESS setup for a sequel. You’ve seen the movie…it was shameless, and a terrible plot device to lead into it as well. Did anyone think for a second that he wouldn’t shoot?
    Ninth, Grace IS TOO OLD for the part. Not a deal breaker, but nothing a better script couldn’t have dealt with either.
    I admit, I have seen worse, and I didn’t walk out of the theater, but this was a terrible disappointment of a movie, and I really hope that the box office take doesn’t prompt them to force another down our throats.
    If you are going to counter my review, please address specific points I listed, as the “you suck” or “some people just can’t enjoy a movie” points are completely invalid to me. I see a large amount and wide variety of movies in the theater and this was by far one of the worst this year. I really wished I’d gone to see Frankenweenie instead.

  10. This family needs to stay home if every time they put one foot outside the door, and particularly into a foreign country, one of them ends up kidnapped…….
    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

  11. Lost all respect for Neeson when he did his little pink underwear stunt on the Ellen Degenerate show.

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  13. All I can say is I’m in shock …… The movie was horrible horrible they only good part was looking at Liam’s sexy self other then Thst the plot was boring and made me want to fall asleep

  14. Film was brill better than 1st was smart the way the director made Liam neeson get around to save his family and loved that the daughter helped out coz it’s not like she knew wat she was doing she took instructions and done it very good kept me (literally) on the edge of my seat.

  15. I am albanian. Tropoja is a city i north of Albania. Can anyone tell me a land border between Albania and Turkey?? is true that Marko is used in Albania as a male name, but in all cases is a catholic male(in north). Complitely inaccurate in all the details. I guess Neeson is the new Chuck Norris

    • hi I’m Albanian too

  16. a rather large dissapointment.

    i read alot of complaints about the edits of the actions sequences and i though ppl were ranting, … but in fact they were right.. the fights are cut in quarters and fifths or something, which removes the sense of ‘cohesion and time’.

    the other thing is you prob need a machine to (analogous to a seismograph) to a detection based on sound waves (the grenade scene)…to locate where jansees and liam neeson are, human ears aren’t that good…heck mobile phones may have a delay or bad reception…(when u are considering the speed of sound).

    enjoyable as a cinema go, but not worth buying or DVD/Blu-ray- coming from a guy who bought taken1 on blu-ray.

  17. other than aliens, how about Terminator 2?

  18. my bad us marines can locate points on a map, but hey not maggie a 29 year old woman right?

  19. Absolute pile of rubbish. The first film Taken was just brilliant! But taken 2 was just plain awful. There was NO need for a sequel. Rubbish storyline and wayyy too much violence for a 12a. A waste of time and money. save your money and go see something more enjoyable.

  20. i thought the movie was great better the first one i cant wait to see the third one pure entertainment this movie rocked xoxo dorothy

  21. This movie seems short and not in a good way

  22. Alas, Hollywood’s looong list of unnecessary sequels continues. Overly-hyped, terribly shot, and mundanely incorporated into a story, Taken 2 takes the best elements of the first movie (character development, fresh story-telling elements, decent pacing, and a quasi-believable (albeit a bit stretched) plot,etc)and trades them in for jerky action sequences, a REALLY stretched plot (the guys who loved the dead guys in Taken 1 plot to get revenge on the guy by… “taking (pun intended)him and his family, yet never KILLING anyone while they were in front of them, for the sake of some spiritual vengeance by having him “watch” the deterioration of his complex family element (which,btw, was built-up quite coherently in the Taken 1)-i.e: bane’s dubious incarceration of Batman in a deep (but apparently, climbable) well so he can “watch Gotham burn”), and a cliched outlook on the obsessive, but highly trained and lethal operative/Father who traced his missing daughter back to the very boat she was gonna board to go set sail for “paradise”. I wont go TOO deep into the many flaws the movies has tht can be forgotten (i.e:”i installed it just in case…”-the gps he used to trace kim back to her “Boyfriend’s”(?), which is virtually in EVERY PHONE MADE after the introduction of the Android platform, the i-phone “lost signal” conundrum, the dubious “grenade positioning system, and even the fact tht Kim essentially becomes a C.I.A agent in one day) because when looked at as a stand alone experience, Taken 2 is actually bearable. Some might take to the whole “now im doing this for my WHOLE FAMILY!” motif, and some might be turned off by the nonsensical storyline threads introduced, but as a TRUE SEQUEL, Taken 2 just disappoints. Now lets patiently wait for studio execs and rabid fans to conjure up the next screeplay for the inevitable and (hopefully satisfying conclusion) to a potentially solid franchise…

  23. I didn’t understand why Albanians would be speaking English to the mothers and families of the dead- I expected subtitles and some authenticity. Certainly not the quality or story of the first. Yet, not the worst sequel ever.

  24. This was one of the best movies I seen in a long time Liam Neelson is an awesome actor along with his co stars I hope to see more of this sequel. On a scale of 1 to 100 I give the first taken an taken 2 a 100 in my book this is stuff that happens in real life.

    • Lol, what a troll.

  25. I am living in Istanbul since 30 years and the scenes from the movie were far from the truth. I have never seen such police cars, old TVs, dirty and filthy streets. If you count all the women wearing black veil in the whole country you will not end up with even the half of what is seen in the movie. Polices drive Mini Coopers, people dress in a modern and fashionable way. Taxis, busses are much more modern. You will see porsche, bentley, lamborghini and other similar cars in the streets. I wish they never mentioned “Istanbul”. I bet I could never guess where the location was.

  26. What I can’t understand is how they casted an old actress to play the role of the teenager Kim,that ruined the movie for me. There’s no way she seems like a teenager … Common!!

  27. not a patch on first one very dissapointing

  28. this movie taken is very good
    :)

  29. Awesome Movie!!!!! Action packed! On the edge of your
    Seat suspense! Don’t know what critics are talking about
    saying its not as good as first one. Great sequel!
    Loved it! Wished it was longer! Hope there’s a third!
    Critics that talked bad about it are idiots! 5 stars for a sequel!
    Have to watch the first one to understand it but if you do you’ll
    Love it if you like action suspence thrillers!