Retired yet by no means finished CIA operative Bryan Mills returns in Taken 2 to the delight of fans wanting more of the original.
Although helmed by a different director (Olivier Megaton, Transporter 3), Taken 2 delivers the same formula in a way that will either thrill or unimpress viewers.
Most of the appeal of Taken 2 borrows heavily from Taken, released four years prior, which includes Liam Neeson’s likable role as Bryan Mills and the easily relatable plot concept of loved ones being kidnapped.
In this highly anticipated sequel, it’s both Bryan and his wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), who are taken, launching a trickier but not insurmountable task for the gruff, hands-on CIA operative with a particular set of skills.
Overall, it’s a safe entry for fans of the original, but those expecting something different will be left wanting more.
The Same Formula For Fans Of The Original
Arguably the strongest point for Taken 2 is that it makes sure to follow in the footsteps of the first entry, delivering more action-packed, don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it fight scenes driven by a kidnapped family plot engine that most can relate to in concept.
Despite that, Taken 2’s strongest point is also its main setback.
Fans expecting something more than a different member of Bryan’s family being taken will be left largely unimpressed, especially since the appeal of this plotline was already maximized in the original.
Still, there is nothing wrong with delivering fan service when the original work did so well to strike the right notes.
Some might argue that Taken 2 plays it safe with an almost connect-the-dots cash grab plot, but others will see it as a worthy sequel that simply serves up what fans both expect and want.
Liam Neeson’s Return Does Not Disappoint
It’s fair to say that Liam Neeson is not in his prime physically, but this does not stop him from returning to his role as Bryan Mills, four years after Taken, without failing to reproduce the fast-paced krav maga action scenes that made the original such a hit.
Once again, Taken 2 serves up edge-of-your-seat hand-to-combat that’s just as visually engaging as the first offering.
This, alongside a display of Bryan’s tactical expertise in certain scenes, makes Taken 2 just as entertaining character-wise, especially for fans who became attached to the cast the first time around.
Another bonus is the performance of Maggie Grace as Kim Mills, Bryan’s daughter, who this time plays a small part in helping her father track down her kidnapped mother.
Contrasted with Taken, she is tougher and less naive in this sequel, something that some viewers will find more favorable.
Unfortunately, The Stakes Aren’t As High
Taken launched right into its main plotline with the tense and hard-to-watch kidnapping of 17-year-old Kim (Maggie Grace), with Bryan Mills forced to use his training to track her down – with little to no information on who kidnapped his daughter or where she was taken.
This presented an almost impossible task for the retired CIA operative, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats from very early on in the movie while wondering how and whether Bryan Mills will be able to pull off a miracle.
Together with audience curiosity for what exactly the “particular set of skills” are that he threatened Kim’s kidnappers with, Taken set the tone for a story that viewers knew was going to be a wild ride from start to finish.
Unfortunately, in Taken 2, the stakes aren’t as high and the surprise factor just isn’t there.
This might be due to the unlikability of Bryan’s estranged ex-wife, Lenore, who is kidnapped this time around, or the fact that the villains from the first movie have already been established, losing their mystique.
Either way, Taken 2, despite its abundance of action-packed scenes, just doesn’t deliver the same thrills as the first entry. This is not entirely on the change of director, however, but the simple fact that viewers have seen it all before.
An Ending That Ultimately Falls Flat
While the ending of Taken had viewers cheering in their seats, the ending of Taken 2 falls flat following what is mostly a satisfactory, action-driven middle act.
It feels drawn-out in some aspects, with no real payoff that viewers will remember.
This isn’t helped by what seems to be a largely out-of-place Matrix-style showdown between Bryan Mills and an Albanian mobster who for some reason isn’t believable as a martial arts expert.
It’s one of those fight scenes that lasts longer than it should, making it ultimately forgettable.
While Taken 2 does well to reproduce the same appeal as Taken for fans wanting more of Bryan Mills, this formula doesn’t deliver an equal amount of thrills.
The surprise factor of what Liam Neeson’s character can do is no longer there, the villains have lost their mystique, and the stakes just aren’t set as high as the original.
Still, it’s worth watching for fans of Taken, fans of action movies in general, and fans of Liam Neeson.
Neeson returns in full character as Bryan Mills despite the four-year gap, delivering yet more lightning-quick hand-to-hand combat that’s entertaining enough for most.
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