Taken 2

Taken 2

*1/2

Reviewed by: Donald Munro

Often sequels do not live up to the original film. Expectations set up by the original are never quite met. Taken 2 isn't as racist or as sexist as its predecessor. It abandons most of white slavery/women-in-peril-drive-man-to-extreme-violence plot and instead is driven by the revenge sought against the man for his former actions. Eventually, however, it returns to women in peril drive man to extreme violence.

In the first film, ex-CIA man Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) slaughters many men in an attempt to rescue his daughter from Armenian slavery. In Taken 2, Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija), the father of one of the slavers who Mills tortured and electrocuted, vows bloody vengeance on the man who killed his son and so many others. To advance the plot, the over-protective and possessive dad Mills, his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and Kim his daughter (Maggie Grace) end up in an exclusive Istanbul hotel in what the film would have us believe is the backward, lawless country of Turkey. In real life, the secular country of Turkey, incidentally, has lower crime and homicide rates than the USA, a better road safety record, far better gun control and better health care, but we don't want facts interfering with the stereotyping of Muslim countries.

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It is in Istanbul that Murad and his men strike. It is also in Istanbul that the film strikes at your suspension of disbelief. Both Mills and Murad's mob take nonsensical action in order to further the plot. It starts with Mills. He and his ex-wife are in a cab. When Mills realises that they are being followed, he sends his wife on foot to a taxi rank. Why? So she can be captured, so he can be forced to surrender? Why didn't he have the cab drive to a police station, why didn't phone the hotel and have their security find his daughter? If the security specialist had done something sensible then it would have been a very short film.

After Mills is captured, he is not frisked or gagged. He is left in a room on his own. His hands are bound to a pipe in front of him with a single cable tie. He has a mobile phone hidden in his sock. Why wasn't he frisked stripped or gagged? Why wasn't he tied up properly? Why wasn't a guard left in the room with him? The answer is again that it would have been a very short film.

Other parts of the film just don't make sense. Why don't the Turkish police respond to all the automatic gunfire? Automatic and semi-automatic guns are illegal in Turkey. Why don't they respond to Kim's improbable orienteering adventures with grenades in the centre of Istanbul? Only after she has got a gun to her father, only after he has cut the cable tie and shot himself out of captivity do the police respond. Not to gunfire, not to explosions but to the stealing of a taxi. Once they do respond they behave like they are in Smokey And The Bandit. Twenty police cars can't stop Kim the learner driver from reaching the US Embassy.

The whole thing smacks of lazy writing. Getting the plot from A to B shouldn't rely on uncharacteristic stupidity or incompetence, characters have to act in a realistic way. It doesn't seem like there has been the slightest bit of research done on Turkey. The US Embassy isn't in Istanbul, it's in Ankara. There is a consulate in Istanbul but it isn't guarded by the US military with heavy machine gun emplacements, its guarded by the Turkish police. Five minutes on Google can reveal this stuff. Also, the consequences of actions follow the plot rather than conform to any realistic expectation. When the taxi is riddled with rifle and 50 calibre machine gun fire, neither Kim nor Mills are injured.

It is hard to say anything positive about Taken 2. It doesn't matter about the quality of the acting. It isn't bad but it can't save this film. The characters are flat and stereotypical, so there isn't much that the actors could have done anyway. Incidentally there are only three speaking parts given to women. The cinematography is competent but unoriginal. Sometimes it has the feel of a horror film ten years its senior. There is a lot of action but it is tame, predictable and repetitious.

Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2012
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Ex-CIA man Bryan finds himself taken hostage by a man bent on revenge.
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Director: Olivier Megaton

Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija, Kevork Malikyan, Alain Figlarz, Frank Alvarez, Murat Tuncelli, Ali Yildirim, Ergun Kuyucu, Cengiz Bozkurt

Year: 2012

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: France

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