Maxwell @ The Movies: Taken 2

Over the course of seventy-two hours, retired Intelligence agent Bryan Mills turned Paris, France upside down in order to find his daughter Kim, who was kidnapped while on a trip to Europe in order to be sold for human trafficking. Using his “particular set of skills” to his utmost advantage, Bryan found himself killing a lot of people in the process; one of them who happened to be the son of Murad Krasniqi, the chief of the Albanian Mafia. He received word of what happened that day in Paris and swore revenge on the one who killed his son and his men. He gained such an opportunity a year later in Istanbul (Not Constantinople), where Mills, Kim, and his ex-wife Lenore were spending a special family getaway. This time however, it’s not Kim that Krasniqi wants.

This time, its Bryan himself.

I believe its safe to say that this surprisingly is the film franchise that is responsible for establishing Liam Neeson to be the badass he is portrayed to be nowadays. Star Wars didn’t do it, despite finding his Qui-Gon Jinn character one of the few saving graces of “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.” Even his portrayal of Ra’s Al Ghul in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy didn’t do it. Instead, it was a 2008 EuropaCorp film with a budget of 26.5 Million US that showed the world that Liam Neeson is indeed a name that should be unanimous with the genre of action films.

With that said, its follow-up was on point.

I was joined by MetaBaron in seeing this sequel four years in the making. Compared to the first one, Taken 2 I believe brought more of the characters that were forced to take a step away from the spotlight because of the overall plot into the spotlight. I speak mostly of the characters portrayed by Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace, who portrayed Lenore and Kim Mills respectively. Luc Besson, writer of both this film and the first one, as well as the creator of these characters, pleasantly surprised me with their development. He didn’t just copy/paste their reactions and personalities from the first movie into the story of the second one. He had them grow, mature and face challenges that resulted in making better decisions over the course of the story. The change in both of the movie’s female roles was refreshing and made me like and respect both of them more than I did in the first film. Because I appreciate the growth and development of characters in a story — regardless if its a movie, book, or comic — I was able to enjoy Taken 2 all the more.

That doesn’t mean it didn’t have its flaws, however. As MetaBaron pointed out to me as we discussed the film after its viewing, there was a bit of laziness regarding the antagonists in the film. Despite Bryan Mills being able to completely get the job done with limited resources this time around (Playing Resident Evil with only one gun, as MetaBaron compared it), it felt at times that the villains were a bit easier for Bryan to take down compared to the first one, especially regarding the main villain played by Rade Serbedzija, whom most would know better as “The Most Interesting Man In The World” from the Dos Equis commercials. I also believe that the story felt rushed at times; that the film would’ve worked out for itself it were a bit longer. I understand the initial story was supposed to take place over the course of a day, but after seeing movies and television shows where that was the case (Die Hard 1 & 2, Barbershop, 24), there was a lot that Taken 2 could’ve opened itself to.

I initially gave the first installment a 9 out of 10 when I first saw the film. And considering the 1 to 10 rating system is the easiest and fairest rating scale I believe I can establish for movies, and taking everything I discussed prior into consideration, I believe the score I’m giving Taken 2 is a rather fair one.


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