I love Taken, and all I wanted for Taken 2 was Liam Neeson doing more of the same: karate chopping thugs in the neck, shooting wives to make a point, chasing cars on foot, threatening the Eiffel Tower, beating a guy over the head with a fire extinguisher, using fine china to break a trachea. It was okay to enjoy the violence because—what, you wouldn’t do all that to get your daughter back? What kind of parent are you?
Taken 2, judging by its marketing campaign, was made to exploit the sentiments of people who share my feelings about the original. And I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is how the producers, or director Olivier Megaton—whoever is responsible—failed to replicate the action, and therefore the hilarity, of Taken.
After all, there is no suspense; Liam Neeson did not do this movie to lose. So what matters is how he beats the mean Albanians, who are led by The Most Interesting Man in the World or his double or something and who seem to spawn more of themselves as the movie goes on. The how, of course, is the action: the karate chops, the gunshots, the escapes from mortal peril—but we can barely see the action when it happens. Because Megaton cuts between shots and camera angles so quickly and so often, each fight scene effects nothing more than disorientation. Combine this with an oddly mellow soundtrack, and you get taken (hah!) out of the movie during the most important moments.
I should say more about the soundtrack, because it provided the only surprise of the film. Two of the songs were lifted from the soundtrack to Drive, which came out last year and starred Ryan Gosling. In a key scene, Neeson’s daughter (played by Maggie Grace), is told to wait in a car for five minutes, and to flee alone once that time is passed. This mimics the rule for Gosling’s character in Drive, so the mimicry of the soundtrack during this scene may be homage.
In any case, that’s the only part of the film that still has me thinking. The dialogue was flat and obvious throughout. Usually hack screenwriting is funny, and my only theory as to why it wasn’t in this case: maybe when an entire script is dull, the joke is on us.