There was nothing particularly remarkable about the plot of 2008’s ‘Taken’, but it was boosted by snappy direction, some memorable dialogue and most importantly, it’s central piece of casting. While he had appeared in action related films before (Batman Begins, Star Wars), Liam Neeson had never taken on a straight-up, no-nonsense action hero role like this. His performance certainly did a great deal for the film, and indeed his career (he’s been in a good deal of action fare since).
So now Neeson’s ex CIA agent Bryan Mills and his ‘particular set of skills’ are back. This time, a group of relatives of the Albanian goons he inventively dispatched in the previous film are hunting him down for revenge. Conveniently for them, he takes a job in Istanbul and invites his ex-wife and daughter along for a holiday.
Unfortunately, it takes quite a while for the action to kick in on ‘Taken 2’, and the LA-set Mills family scenes which bookend the film are fairly awful, especially when involving Neeson’s daughter’s new boyfriend (who he tracks down using a GPS he hid in her phone). By the time the ‘Taken’ element of the story occurs it feels like we’re almost at the half way point.
It does get considerably better from there though, and the fact that the parents, rather than the daughter, are kidnapped this time tries to add a little variety to proceedings. Seeing Neeson doing ‘what he does best’ makes for a number of enjoyable, if somewhat ridiculous, sequences, but the hastily-edited fight scenes are not handled especially well by director Olivier Megaton, who replaces original director Pierre Morel. It does just about breeze by fast enough though, to stop one from thinking too hard about how incompetent some of the baddies are acting and how preposterous the actions of Mill’s daughter are.
So Neeson is unsurprisingly the best thing about the film again, but there’s not a great deal more to be done with ‘Taken’.