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Capone finds TAKEN 2 a lot like TAKEN, but minus all the fun stuff!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

OK, you saw that movie TAKEN, right? The one where Liam Neeson's daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) gets kidnapped in Paris and sold into sex slavery, and he (playing Bryan Mills, a retired CIA agent and private security dude) uses his "particular set of skills" to retrieve her in record time. Good. Well, TAKEN 2 is basically that, but it's his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) that gets kidnapped by the friends and family of the people he killed in the first movie. And I'm not saying it's not fun; there just isn't an ounce of surprise or unpredictability in the whole movie, and maybe you'll be OK with that. I'm a little less OK with it, but I always have such a fun time watching Liam Neeson kick ass, I'm not complaining that much.

Bryan and Lenore are still divorced when things begin, but the writing is on the wall that her new marriage in on the rocks, and there's Bryan being the perfect dad to Kim and friend to the ex. He can barely contain his glee when he catches wind of Lenore's marital distress. But Bryan is almost too distracted to notice because Kim has blown off a driving lesson he's supposed to give her before her third attempt at getting her license. He soon discovers through some clever spy-type detective work that she has a serious boyfriend (Luke Grimes), and he busts up their little make-out session right quick.

In case you hasn't guessed, all of this family business is supposed to pass as character development when in fact it's one cliche piled upon another, and it's oppressively dull. But before long, Bryan is off on a business trip to Istambul, where Kim and Lenore surprise him. It just so happens that people connected with Kim's kidnappers spot Bryan, and an Eastern European crime boss (the great Rade Serbedzija) whose son was one of the kidnappers puts out an order to capture Bryan and his family. Then the movie goes into overdrive with the shooting, chasing, running, exploding, screaming, more chasing, crashing, bombing, sneaking, climbing, driving, beating, additional chasing, torturing, bleeding, molesting, punching, grimacing, and there might be some chasing as well.

Director Olivier Megaton (TRANSPORTER 3, COLOMBIANA but not the first TAKEN film) certainly has a distinct and relentless way of shooting action, and even with a PG-13 rating (like its predecessor), some of the killing is fairly brutal. What's missing is Bryan's sense of being willing to take out his anger and desperation on innocent bystanders the way he did in the first film. What works more than I thought it would is that he enlists Kim to help in search for Lenore. As with the original, the screenplay is co-written by Luc Besson, whose talents as a writer seem to thinking up creative ways for action, death, and injury to occur. Most of his written works feel a bit thin in the character development side (or as far as plot goes, for that matter), and TAKEN 2 is no different.

The film's saving grace is, of course, Neeson, whose dependability even in the most outrageous movies is fast becoming the stuff of legend. Although there's no getting around the fact that after seeing his fine work in THE GREY, TAKEN 2 feels like a step back. The first TAKEN was such a massive hit worldwide (and a solid film on top) that there was no way the sequel wasn't going to happen. Still, I wish they'd spent five minutes turning it into something that feels less like padding and more like a story where death means something and we care enough for these characters that I'd actually be troubled if one of them died or was hurt. Alas, welcome to the decidedly mediocre world of sequels.

-- Steve Prokopy
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Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 5, 2012, 11:17 p.m. CST

    I've run out of Taken jokes. :-(

    by Hardboiled Wonderland

  • Oct. 5, 2012, 11:36 p.m. CST

    His Fine Work in the Grey

    by jazzdownunder

    Which unfortunately did not make up for the rest of the tedious, predictable crap we had to sit through. Which seems also to be a facet of Neeson's more recent work. Great performances in otherwise unbearably bad movies. And he always seems to be playing the same character in all these movies too. Time to move on.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 12:39 a.m. CST

    No blood from the gunshots.

    by F-18

    That's some PG-13 bullshit right there. Kim taking driving lessons in the beginning, but knows how to drive the stick shift taxicab in Istanbul and drives it like a professional stunt driver. What the fuck is up with that?

  • I can totally understand that. I just hope he doesn't go the way of Nic Cage.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 12:56 a.m. CST

    Wha? That wasn't how the plot went...

    by MaxCalifornia.

    Did you show up late, Capone? This part : "It just so happens that people connected with Kim's kidnappers spot Bryan, and an Eastern European crime boss (the great Rade Serbedzija) whose son was one of the kidnappers puts out an order to capture Bryan and his family." Nothing "just so happens", it was all planned! The very first scene of the movie clearly shows Rade vowing revenge for his son; they grab and torture the Parisian cop who helped/hindered Bryan in the first one, and get Bryan's name out of him. Then they're seen with a photo of Bryan, bribing some government type guy who tells them "Istanbul". When the Albanians see him, they are clearly staking out the hotel waiting for him. It was a perfectly clear sequence, nobody "just so happened" to spot him, which would have been a ridiculous coincidence. Not that the film was anything great, but what you described was just not in the movie.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 1:41 a.m. CST

    The Grey was terrible

    by John Brennick

  • Plus he made The Grey and Unknown - two polarizing movies that easily could have tanked with a different lead - into hits. Although two of his next three movies are an action flick aboard an airplane and a Paul Haggis romance movie that features James Franco, so who knows what happens next.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 3:11 a.m. CST

    If you didn't like, "The Grey", you're a fucking idiot.

    by Pixelsmack

    Liam hits far outweigh his misses. The Grey is one of his best. If you don't "get it", you're an idiot.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 6:22 a.m. CST

    the grey was a worse version of seraphim falls, but with wolves.

    by Waka_Flocka

    decent movie don't get me wrong. but it had a similar vibe. i think they grey would have worked better as a western, with a stage coach crashing or something along those lines.

  • Do the script writers actually rad back what they write down? :O

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 7:34 a.m. CST

    Lost interest in this film...

    by HarveyManfrenjenson

    ...when Capone mentioned that the director had also made Colombiana. Possibly the worst action movie of the past five years. A film so pathetically inept that, when the fashion-model heroine is called upon to do a roundhouse kick, the director actually SPEEDS UP THE FILM in an attempt to make her look like a martial artist.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 8:02 a.m. CST

    The Grey is wonderful ... Don't understand the hate?


  • Oct. 6, 2012, 8:54 a.m. CST

    Taken 2: Cash Grab

    by Andrew Coleman

    This movie was terrible. Neeson was great and actually so was Maggie Grace. Still the plot is so thin and there is just no solid twists. If they had the balls to just kill his ex-wife... The movie would have had some weight to it. Also at the end how is Liam Neeson just killing dudes by pushing them into walls? In five minutes I could have came up with a better script. I think they got hung up on the idea all the audience cared about was his family... Who cares would have rather seen him and his buddies rescue some new character who was kidnapped. Taken 3 it would be easy to have one of Liam Neesons's buddies and family get kidnapped by a Mexican drug lord or something... I mean it should be so easy yet they messed it all up.

  • so that once the mother is taken, he's too far away to do anything about it before the trail goes cold, so she pursues the mom until he can catch up with her following her breadcrumbs.

  • ...and then have them use their 'sets of skills' for a totally different event...not a repeat. maybe we can see that in a third one, which will make no reference or mention to taken2 at all, therefore it can be eliminated

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 11:32 a.m. CST


    by ScorpioRising

    Isn't it Istanbul? I know how cities have different English names, so just curious to know if Istambul is also correct.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 11:41 a.m. CST


    by Deaft0ne

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 12:31 p.m. CST

    by DrMorbius

    by drstrangerlove Do the script writers actually rad back what they write down? :O ?

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 2:32 p.m. CST

    Enjoyed TAKEN 2, but was annoyed by the direction/editing

    by thot

    A fairly solid sequel for sure, but the dizzying, frenetic, shaky-cam style of shooting and editing I found quite irritating. It was hard to tell just what the hell was going on in many scenes. Not as good as the first but not bad at all.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 8:14 p.m. CST

    Looking forward to The Grey 2.

    by Epsilon

    Though I'm still skeptical about the whole wolves-seeking-revenge plot line.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 9:36 p.m. CST

    There are actually people out there who didnt like The Grey?

    by GravyAkira

    I truly feel sorry for you guys! The Grey remains the best film I have seen all year. Liam Neeson truly is becoming a legend.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 10:01 p.m. CST

    why the fuck aren't people watching dredd?

    by Rakesh Patel

    it's a bloody great movie.

  • Oct. 6, 2012, 11:33 p.m. CST

    The Edge > The Grey

    by Hardboiled Wonderland

  • Oct. 7, 2012, 10:12 a.m. CST

    Yeah. Go watch Dredd!

    by Judge Anderson's kinky boots

    A proper full blooded R rated action movie and not this imbecilic PG-13 dross.

  • Oct. 7, 2012, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Where is Istambul?

    by Immortal_Fish

    her new marriage in on the rocks

  • Oct. 7, 2012, 3:51 p.m. CST


    by NoHubris

    My take is that the same people who would have gladly paid to see Dredd already saw THE RAID, which also dealt with a hero battling thugs floor-by-floor in a highrise apartment building.

  • Oct. 7, 2012, 8:27 p.m. CST


    by Marc

    You are correct sir. "The Grey" was a heavy, deep, man against nature/god film that was far smarter than the audience that went to see it. Some of Liam N's best work for sure. I think a lot of people were pretty upset he didnt throw down with the Wolf. I wanted to see it as well but the movie was great regardless

  • Oct. 8, 2012, 12:57 a.m. CST

    @mr spork

    by Pablo

    Maybe she's a quick learner...

  • Oct. 8, 2012, 5:46 a.m. CST

    gmc, you arrogant twat.

    by Vinod

    The Grey was "far smarter than the audience that went to see it"? Seriously? You seem to be implying that there was any sort of depth or subtlety to it. Fuck THAT. That flick was your standard fare, group in wilderness gets picked off one by one by the elements, that's been done FAR better before. Outside of Liam, all of the characters were one dimensional, cardboard stereotypes. The dialogue and presentation of the script's themes were heavy handed and obvious. I went in hoping for a philosophical/psychological, nuanced, rumination on hopelessness, regret, and isolation and all i got was a derivative actioner, 10 little indians style, with fucking fake ass looking cgi wolves. The only 2 redeeming qualities in that wank fest was Neeson's performance and the cinematography. Everything else in that flick was amateur as FUCK. Just about as overrated as the first Taken. Don't even get me started on that vapid, cliched pile of nonsense.

  • As great as Urban was, he has no following and brings no additional audience with him. Despite the previous Stallone film, most people still don't know jack about Dredd. And unfortunately, this film, while decent for what it was sis not really educate folks about just how cool JD is. The movie while well-made just wasn't much very much fun and did not tap into the dark humor and overthetop satire that were staples in the Dredd comics. As fine a job as Urban did, I just never got the sense of Epicness to Dredd, only that he was an efficient by the books cops. His perps should have been scared shitless by the fact that they were facing THE ONE AND ONLY JUDGE DREDD. And Dredd should have been overthetop in his enforcement and adherence to the Law. And there should have been some fun applied to the assembly of the bad guys, especially MaMa. This film really could have used a great Dredd villain and some interesting henchmen. Each of the rogue Judges should have had some well-defined personality trait that identified them and made them interesting. As, a huge fan of the comics, I was disappointed by Dredd. I think it was a well-made movie with good direction and visually appealing cinematographic style in spades, but the writing was sorely lacking in delivering what is awesome about Judge Dredd. The Avengers has proven that you don't have to hold back from the more eccentric aspects of your source material, but should embrace it and go all in wholeheartedly and audiences will reward your efforts, because they too will appreciate what us fanboys thought was great bout it in the first place. Bring on Judge Death!

  • Oct. 8, 2012, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Hating on The Grey?

    by Darth Macchio

    I won't go so far as to claim that if you don't like it you "didn't get it" (while it's not a shallow movie by any stretch, it's also not overly complex or deeply layered either) but I am curious as to the statements making The Grey out to be "crap"? Why do you guys think that? Genuinely curious here (not attacking anyone's views/opinions)...

  • Oct. 10, 2012, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Apparently 'Taken 2' had a $49M opening weekend...

    by Bill C.

    ...and Besson and Kamen are, indeed, talking trois: Obligatory funny quote from Liam: ["How many times can she be taken?" he said when asked about the possibility of a third film. "I mean, it’s bad parenthood, really, after that."] Who was it that initially popped up with 'Taken 8: Stop Taking My Shit!' again?