Taken 2 – 2012

Director Oliver Megaton
Starring Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Šerbedžija, Leland Orser, John Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes
Screenplay Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

I became smitten with Famke Janssen almost 16 years ago, when I first saw her as Xena Onetopp in Goldeneye.  The wish to inflict damage was her major selling point. She never impressed me the same way since then, but she did a decent job with her role in the first 2 X-Men films.  Her characters shrank away from the fighter since that Bond film.  When I saw her in the first Taken film, the first vision was all but obliterated.  All she could do was sit and wait.  This was not sexy: it was not Xena Onetopp.

Maggie Grace has never done anything for me as an actress.  Even though she played a big role in the early years of Lost, I was glad when she took an accidental bullet.  Her “little girl” run from Taken horribly offset the effect of seeing her as a little girl lost.  So annoying was she, I kind of hoped that she might have taken yet another bullet.  At least we would have Neeson as a seriously pissed off Dad for part 2.  Instead, we have this…

Everything is fine when Taken 2 starts.  At least it is for Bryan Mills.  His ex-wife (Janssen) is having marital problems, and his daughter would rather spend her time with a not so serious boyfriend instead of taking her driving test.  With all the believability of a Penthouse Letter, both of the girls end up going with Mills to Istanbul.  Guess who’s in town to exact revenge on Mills for killing all of their sons who lived in one house in the first film?

It’s not that this film is so much like the last one.  It’s not.  Istanbul is beautiful, even if the dialogue is not.  Neeson still cuts an intense figure when the shit hits the fan.  None of these guys are any better fighters than their sons are, but he has two somewhat useless women to protect.  Part of the selling point to this film is that this time he walks Grace through most of  her scenes.  She still has that stupid run, too, when she’s not running for her life.  Speaking of running, Neeson’s lope isn’t any less painful to watch.  Bowl legged does not work in an action film.

Since he has the extra load, the pacing of this film is affected and uneven.  Besson’s crew is too good to let it be boring, though.  Then there is the general hostility of a Muslim country with two uncovered women around.  So much is the frustration in watching Grace try to follow Neeson’s instructions.  You wonder how such an intense man of espionage could have birthed such a maroon.  He keeps it steady, though, and positive.  My dad would get pissed when I couldn’t hold the flashlight straight for 10 minutes.

If you loved the first movie, you will like this one.  It’s a solid base of a franchise, even if the top keeps crumbling and trembling.

As for Famke, I am afraid that ship has sailed, as beautiful as it was.  It’s just a shell now.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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