October 18, 2012
Overtaken by kidnapped logic and mechanical storytelling
Taken 2 feels like a leftover of the first movie. It still has a serviceable appeal coming from its solid lead actor, along with its travelogue heart that sugarcoats its routine and ridiculous plot, but it is highly unlikely that the viewers can get quite as taken by it this second time around. Unfortunately, it is pretty much the opposite of the things done right in Pierre Morel's Taken. For this installment by Olivier Megaton, the strained efforts in recreating the ballistic charm of its source material merely renders it as an absurd plot-driven piece with a lame personality.
Seeing this mediocre work actually holds some promise. But once into it, the audience becomes a victim of kidnapped logic and mechanical storytelling.
This follow-up flick's emotional connection with the first film still lingers around its tale about an ex-CIA agent who must save his kidnapped family from a grieving patriarch seeking revenge. However, this early on, it already suffers from serious franchise fatigue. There is nothing in it that wasn't accomplished better in the first movie. If the initial offering is a buffed up material, this one is more of the formerly buffed now suffering from flabs. Far less intense or creative, this sophomore release is bereft of the kinetic thrills and surprises of its predecessor—it is longer, dumber, less invigorating, and definitely less satisfying.
This generic and mind-numbing picture's ludicrous premise and disappointing dialogue are all in service of some very sub-par action treats. Its sequences are so lazily put together without any nurturing touches for significant character development. It merely tries to infuse more drama into the picture at the expense of the inventive action that made the 2008 surprise hit a blockbuster success. Its reliance on flashbacks further makes it an extraneous and unnecessary sequel.
Its script and direction are full of missed thematic opportunities and characterization. Although it still tries to cling on to the sleek, tough and efficient demeanor of the original film, it still looks pretty tired in the way it focuses on the suspenseful carnage and dramatics of its narrative.
At times clumsy and ham-handed, at times outlandish and laughable, this movie fuels the story with preposterously flowing action. As it progresses, the turn of events becomes increasingly exhausting. The scenes don't necessarily induce sleep, as long as Liam Neeson's veteran acting skills are showcased on screen, but the mindless storytelling really leads the viewing experience to a downward spiral.
What used to be fresh and exciting now insists of ludicrous details that unveil one overly convenient action scene after another. The inept and slow-moving villains and succession of screeching chases and absurdly violent fights deliver little gratification for hard-core action junkies. The overzealous editing doesn't help elevate its rigorously formulaic and far-fetched bearing. Shots are often confusing and indistinct with the many fast zooms and rapid-fire cuts making it virtually impossible to tell who's hitting whom.
The most delightful part of this cinematic piece is grounded in the escapist elements radiating from Neeson's effective acting chops as a vulnerable father and husband whose fighting skills never fail anyone he saves. His credible performance makes the story watchable.
Taken 2 is clearly not as enjoyable as the first one. As an action yarn, its low-quality merits really offer nothing for the viewers to die for.
Taken 2 is now showing in theaters nationwide.
About the writer: Exposed in the different facets of media including film, TV, advertising, theater, radio, print, web, and events, Rianne is an awarded filmmaker whose film works go beyond her productions. As a young and active soul, she immerses herself in various disciplines as a director, writer, educator, and production artistdriving her to further learn and experience love and life.