There are varied opinions circulating regarding the release of ‘Taken 2’, the sequel to the 2008 French smash hit ‘Taken’, directed by Pierre Morel, which followed CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) in his quest to find his kidnapped daughter.
The action-thriller film was a huge success worldwide, and many people argued that a sequel would be a waste of time as they deemed the original impossible to rival. Others were thrilled at the prospect of a second instalment of Neeson in action and couldn’t wait to get to the cinema to see it. Personally, I would establish myself as a member of the latter group, which left room for potential disappointment when I eventually saw the film. So did the sequel, directed by Olivier Megaton four years after the release of the first film, disappoint or exceed expectation?
Firstly, the story has progressed well in terms of time. Bryan’s daughter Kim has a boyfriend, much to Bryan’s dismay, and is now learning to drive which reflects her advancing in age. The film does fail to mention her passion for singing however, which was a significant feature of the original, but this is hardly an important issue, and it may have been a childish ambition of Kim’s as she was seemingly younger in the first film anyway. So, ‘Taken 2’ sees the plot turn around to Bryan himself in the sense that people are after him now. The relatives of his past victims gather for a group funeral and hatch a plan to hunt and kill Bryan to avenge their own losses and the grief that they have suffered. The storyline is every bit as action packed as the original film, the scenes are as tense, the car chases are more thrilling and the special effects are even better. The themes within the plot are not as serious as the first film which explored adult topics such as sex trafficking, this is simply an act of revenge being played out, which means the story is less weighty in that respect – and explains the 12a certificate. But trust me, you’ll still be on the edge of your seat – (with your hands over your eyes at times if you’re as half as dramatic as me when it comes to these sorts of films).
There were only two things I wasn’t keen throughout the entire film. The soundtrack was unfitting at times, and the ending was a little weak in that what should have been the final climatic killing was fairly uncreative. In fairness however, Bryan does express his tiredness of fighting and killing just before he commits this last murder, so the half-hearted killing may have been intended as a reflection of that. Evidently there are numerous unrealistic moments in the film but they can’t really be criticised as we don’t go to the cinema to watch this particular genre in the hope of seeing truth being reflected onscreen. It isn’t about realism – after all, how many of us have a dad like Bryan Mills? I know if mine started a phone call with ‘I need you to listen to me’, I wouldn’t think, ‘Oh, he’s involved in a seriously life-threatening conflict, where’s the gun?’ Who would (apart from Kim Mills of course)?
And now for the question everyone is asking – is ‘Taken 2’ as good as the first? Well we all know that a sequel to an original film that successful and that hard-hitting could never be better than the first because we know the layout of the story now. We know Bryan Mills and we know what he is capable of, so the shock factor isn’t there anymore. That being said, ‘Taken 2’ was an excellently strong response to the original and in my opinion, almost as good, again balancing action with juxtapositions of brutal murder and hints of humour throughout. There is certainly room left for a third film although I sincerely hope that the filmmakers don’t tire the franchise out to the point where we roll our eyes in years to come at the prospect of ‘yet another Taken movie’. Overall, I feel that ‘Taken 2’ is a brilliant answer to the first film that exceeded my expectation personally. I would definitely recommend giving it a watch, whether you’re an avid Neeson fan (is there anything he can’t do?), and certainly if you enjoyed the first film. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t stop reading a book halfway through so go and see the rest of the story and see what all the fuss is about!