Review: TAKEN 2 (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Review: TAKEN 2 (2012)


When the first TAKEN (2008) was shown in 2008, nobody would have thought that Liam Neeson could convince the viewers with his "special set of skills" (read: martial arts). But he did it very well, and the movie went on to become a surprise hit during that year. Now here comes the unnecessary sequel, which is obviously made to cash in the success of the first movie. Unsurprisingly, of course, TAKEN 2 is more of the same. Still, being formulaic can sometimes have its fun factor, as long as the filmmakers deliver the same intensity and excitement that the first movie had done successfully. However, the filmmakers behind the sequel can't even get the same thing right. Let's just say the result is seriously a lazy rehash with a capital "L".

This time around, the story involves the head of the Albanian clan named Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia), who vows to avenge Bryan Mills' (Liam Neeson) killing of his son, the head of a human trafficking syndicate who was previously responsible for kidnapping Mills' daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) in the first movie. His plan is to capture Mills, his separated wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and Kim (Maggie Grace) and manage to track them down at Istanbul where they are there on a holiday.

While Kim chooses to stay over at the hotel to dip in the pool, Mills and Lenore goes out together. It doesn't take long before Mills starts to realize that they being followed and tries to outwit them. But no matter how precise and careful he tries, both he and Lenore end up being "taken" and now it's up to Kim to save the day.

So the ever-resourceful Mills, who hides a micro cellphone beneath his pants, manages to contact Kim and coordinate her escape. Of course, the rest of the movie won't be focusing solely on Kim to save the day (which I actually thought the filmmakers are bold enough to toy with the formula inside out) but we eventually see Mills break free from capture and uses his same "special set of skills" to overcome the bad guys.

The biggest problem about TAKEN 2 is the replacement of the original director Pierre Morel with Olivier Megaton (the man behind the awful TRANSPORTER 3 and the surprisingly entertaining COLOMBIANA). Just as you thought he does improve significantly in term of his overall direction in COLOMBIANA, he does the impossible in TAKEN 2. It's like watching TRANSPORTER 3 all over again. His direction is listless and he has no sense of pace. The first 15 to 20 minutes alone is a tired slog that seriously needs to be trimmed down a lot. I mean, it's understandable that Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson's script is trying to inject some character-driven family drama here to develop more on Bryan Mills, Kim and Lenore. But their execution is terribly long-winded and frankly, too melodramatic for its own good.

Even when the action does finally arrive, it's sad to see that Megaton chooses to film the scene with his trademark shaky camerawork and whole lots of haphazard editing that it's frustrating to see what's going on. The hand-to-hand combat scene is especially a huge letdown, with surprisingly boring martial-art choreography all over the place. Whether it's me or the fact that Liam Neeson is looking less agile and tired when comes to action scene. Perhaps he's too old to commit a lot of physical movements like he did so well two years ago. But whatever the reason is, the action is awfully pedestrian and there's hardly any sense of urgency at all. Even the movie's car chase scene in the middle part feels generic.

Liam Neeson remains a saving grace here, but that isn't really saying much. Overall, you can say his role is sadly wasted here. Meanwhile, Maggie Grace is obviously too old to play a 19-year-old teenager (she's actually 28!) and spends most of the time either looking worried or sad. Famke Janssen delivers a thankless performance here, while veteran Rade Sherbedgia, who is no stranger to villainous role, is as lifeless as a piece of wooden plank.

With a reportedly high budget of an estimated $80 million to make, TAKEN 2 looks like a low-rent, B-grade trash you might found in the bargain bin. No doubt TAKEN 2 is one of the worst sequels ever made for an action thriller. Hopefully this will be the last of it.

No comments: