When TAKEN came out at the movies a friend of mine warned me not to see it. It wasn’t about the quality of the movie, the story or the cast. He had a genuine concern and said that no father who loves his daughter should ever see the movie. As a Dad, his caution lodged in my brain but in an irritating way that made me want to see the movie even more. It’s kind of like when Mum says don’t look in that cupboard, you feel magnetically drawn to it. It took three years before I picked up the DVD and really enjoyed it.
The original story broadly surrounds the life of retired CIA operative Bryan Mills played by Liam Neeson. When his daughter is kidnapped by a white slavery ring Mills headed off on a recovery and revenge mission.
Fast forward to 2012 and we have TAKEN 2 out and I’m asking how can they make this work a second time. Liam Neeson is front and centre in the publicity so the return of the key character is a given. The trailer also introduces us to Mill’s ex-wife Lenore played by Famke Janssen of X-Men Phoenix fame and we quickly learn that Neeson will this time have to keep an eye on both his daughter and ex-wife.
Sitting down at the movie’s review was a full and expectant crowd which initiated some off-the-cuff humour from a fellow reviewer when someone asked if the seat next to them was ‘taken’. The person said ‘yes’ and then the person next to them said ‘Yes, it’s Taken 2 (too)’.
The antagonist of the story is portrayed by Rade Serbedzija as a father bent on revenge in the role of Murad Krasniqi. In the first episode, Neeson lays low to a number of hired guns from a village community. As the father of one of the villains, he rallies the revenge mission resolute on paying back justice despite his son’s misdeeds. The role never really ignites and you are left feeling that Neeson is left acting around the wallpaper.
Maggie Grace plays the plucky daughter Kim who is wanting to break out of a life living in the heavy bulletproof shadow of her over-protective father. Mills has been checking her boyfriend’s, initiating life skills like passing driving tests and watching over his daughter’s every move. For Kim, this adventure is a coming of age in a girl-power kick-butt kinda way.
The French connection to this movie is strong as a French production directed by Olivier Megaton and Luc Beeson on the story team. Kudos to the writers for being able to draw a sequel out of the first movie but I hope they can let a unique story die gracefully after this one. It’s in many ways a clinical formula of a thriller with the right amount of intrigue, a dash of capture and torture and a superb car chase that will make you think twice about using European taxis.
Liam Neeson is quoted as saying he’s surprised he’s still getting the action scripts coming across his desk but he does play the caged tiger extremely well. For me, this was a 3 out of 5 popcorn outing. Well worth the experience but not to be stretched to a three-movie Hobbit journey.