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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Liam Neeson
Famke Janssen
Maggie Grace
Rade Serbedzija
Luke Grimes.
Directors
Olivier Megaton.
Screenwriters
Robert Mark Kamen
Luc Besson.
Running Time
90 minutes

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Taken 2
Mills and boom


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Plot
Can the same shit happen to the same dad twice? Turns out it can, as Bryan Mills (Neeson) runs foul of shady foreigners once again. Only this time, he and his ex-wife (Janssen) are taken, and it’s their daughter (Grace) who must come to their aid...


Review
Taken 2
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At a time when iconic action heroes are few and far between, Bryan Mills stands tall — and not just because he’s 6’ 4”. He’s a taciturn, leather-jacketed super-soldier-turned-bodyguard who begins 70 per cent of his sentences with the words, “Listen to me very carefully...” He’s killed more people than you’ve had hot dinners, and probably some of them with hot dinners. Not to mention his very particular set of skills, which make him a nightmare for anyone foreign and in need of a shave. Yet there’s also an endearing awkwardness that sets him apart from all those other one-man armies. At heart he’s a worrywart, constantly fretting about his family’s safety but mostly embarrassing them in the process. The kind of guy who secretly installs a GPS chip in his daughter’s phone, and who thinks a karaoke machine will make a brilliant birthday present.

All these qualities earned Mills, as played with pleasingly poker-faced intensity by Liam Neeson, a large following when Taken came out in 2008. No-one was more surprised than Neeson himself, who recently admitted he’d expected it to go straight to DVD. Instead it made $227 million worldwide, turned him into a late-in-life action star and made the sequel an inevitability. Sadly for those fans, Taken 2 fails to go bigger, badder, better. Instead, it retains all the twitchy xenophobia of the original — sending the all-American, occasionally-Irish-accented Mills to Istanbul, another foreign city seemingly lousy with lowlifes — while dropping the ball on all the OTT action that made Taken so much fun.

Blame must be laid at the feet of director Olivier Megaton (the man behind Transporter 3 and Colombiana, replacing Taken’s Pierre Morel), who has an excellent name but fists of ham when it comes to lensing combat. Time and again Mills faces off against foes, only for the resulting scraps to unfold so confusingly — thanks to shakycam, overcranking and merciless strobe-cuts — that it appears he’s editing people to death. It might be to disguise the fact that Neeson, who’s just turned 60, isn’t exactly Jet Li. Or it could be because crucial shots have been excised to secure a 12A rating (the original was 15, with an 18 director's cut). Yet even the film’s big car chase, which recycles an oft-seen oncoming-train stunt, requires serious concentration to follow.

There’s a potentially interesting plot wrinkle, in that the villains this time aren’t random baddies but relatives of the scumbags our hero dispatched in Part 1. Accordingly, the hunter has become the hunted, as vengeful Balkan gangster Murad (Rade Sherbedgia) sets out to acquire a very particular set of Mills. With Bryan and his ex-wife kidnapped, and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace — 28 playing 19) their only hope of rescue, the set-up of the first movie is neatly inverted. But co-writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen haven’t come up with enough cool things for the beleaguered family to do. It’s enjoyably ludicrous that Mills’ method of drawing Kim to their location involves her flinging grenades around in a city centre — if more than a bit out of character for the world’s most over-protective father — but mostly what we get is a lot of yawny rooftop parkour and generic alley take-downs.

Despite the fact that the filmmakers miss a trick in not giving him a quotable speech to match his “I will find you...” monologue from the original, Neeson is still the redeeming feature. He commits to lines such as, “When a dog has a bone, the last thing you should try to do is take it from him,” as if it’s Chekhov, and invests his cartoonishly lethal character with cheerably gruff gravitas. He’s always watchable. It’s just a shame, then, that he’s stuck in such a rote adventure, pitted against a bunch of witless, bland Albanian thugs (who, after Dredd and The Expendables 2, are the third villainous gang this summer to be identifiable by their tattoos). There might still be a future for Mills — or a past; might we suggest a prequel with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’s Neeson-a-like Benjamin Walker? — but it’ll need to be much better thought-out than this.


Verdict
The first one offered the novel sight of Oskar Schindler going Commando. Unfortunately, this half-hearted sequel is low on novelty and lower on fun.


Reviewed by Nick de Semlyen

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Taken 2
Empire Star Rating

RE: Taken 2

Bwuahhahahahahah more stars than the original but not as good? Forget this whole individual point of view. I don't see "5 stars - Nick De Sem" on movie posters. It's the score Empire magazine give, the reviewer is just paid to deliver the goods in a fashion the magazine want them to in a way that will appeal to the audience and more importantly, the advertisers... ... More

Posted by iamjacksass at 15:08, 28 September 2012 | Report This Post


Do you think Mills and family vote Republican? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by harlequin21 at 11:18, 24 September 2012 | Report This Post


Well done, Empire reviewer

A shame Nick didn't have the guts to say: "F--k you Fox, for f--king up a potential franchise!" Mega-douche Megaton should not be allowed to make movies, period, the man is a disgrace. And Liam Neeson should've taken a leaf from Joel Kinnaman, whose only condition to star in the RoboCop reboot, was that it was R-rated. As the saying goes: "If it ain't broke..." ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jace007 at 09:50, 23 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

With the odd Saudi sultan I think. Perhaps the reviewer (Dan Jolin/Devon Faraci?) was upset because he didn't have any tp://www.evi.com/q/how_do_you_say_sugar_in_albanian]she qerlick) in his tea? ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 16:08, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

Albanians I'd say. ... More

Posted by Woger at 16:02, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: Woger Yes, the original Taken review sounded like it was written by someone hopped up on Soy Chai tea who just lost their new pair of hemp sandals.loody foreigners! ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 16:00, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: Emyr Thy King L: AxlReznor Exactly. No one who sees these movies is led to believe that the entire country is full of kidnappers who ply women with drugs and force them into the sex trade. Only that it does happen, and as that's what the movie's about, that's what it's going to show you more of. The same way Trainspotting didn't lead anyone to believe that everyone in Scotland is a heroin addict... and Warrior King didn't lead anyone to believe that all of Australia steals ele... More

Posted by Woger at 15:10, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: Emyr Thy King L: AxlReznor Exactly. No one who sees these movies is led to believe that the entire country is full of kidnappers who ply women with drugs and force them into the sex trade. Only that it does happen, and as that's what the movie's about, that's what it's going to show you more of. e way Trainspotting didn't lead anyone to believe that everyone in Scotland is a heroin addict Warrior King didn't lead anyone to believe that all of Australia steals elephants for a l... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:23, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: AxlReznor Exactly. No one who sees these movies is led to believe that the entire country is full of kidnappers who ply women with drugs and force them into the sex trade. Only that it does happen, and as that's what the movie's about, that's what it's going to show you more of. The same way Trainspotting didn't lead anyone to believe that everyone in Scotland is a heroin addict... and Warrior King didn't lead anyone to believe that all of Australia steals elephants for a living. ] ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 12:55, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


Taken 2

What is up with the charges of xenophobia again?? I look forward to seeing Taken 3 being set in the U.S just to see what charges will be made next. "Clearly the film-makers feel those who wear baseball caps and cowboy boots deserve to die..." ... More

Posted by Emyr Thy King at 12:45, 21 September 2012 | Report This Post


Who can you trust

Thena agin EMPIRE gave TAKEN one star when it came out! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blindfold at 17:29, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


So

It's twice as good as the originally? Will definitely be watching it then ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by echoalpha92 at 17:27, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: cerebusboy lso, human trafficking for prostitution of the kind in Taken actually exists. It's not like they've completely made up a crime and tried to claim that's what happens in France. It happens! All over the world! And usually they target young foreign girls on their own! People who claim it's xenophobic are idiots.Yeah, it's a dramatic choice: I think a lot of people (especially teenagers) would feel less safe in a foreign country they're visiting for the first time than they would ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 16:41, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

It sometimes leads to more intense beatdowns when the loved ones are already dead, though. For example, I found the last few episodes of 24 some of the most emotionally tense hours of television I'd ever seen, because Jack had just lost it. Granted, it eliminates hope of an entirely happy ending. But the bittersweet ending can be just as dramatic. Either way, I don't see how people can insist that a movie is immoral simply because the villain does immoral things. If we had to agree with e... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 16:36, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: AxlReznor I dunno about you, but I always found murder/rape a good reason to get revenge on somebody. What? Are we supposed to write stories now where the only things that people need to avenge are morally acceptable? Why the fuck would you need to get revenge if it i] something awful that happens in the first place? They're the villain's! You're not supposed to like what they do! And cheering when the villains get the shit kicked out of them is pretty much the plot of ction movie ever... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 16:24, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: jobloffski Yeah, Taken is different, It uses the threat that the main character's daughter MIGHT get raped and murdered to motivate a bollocks plot involving beating up Paris and along the way, he encounters his daughter's friend who HAS been raped and murdered, with the only reason for her to be in the film is for him to find her dead. Totally different, not. Actual rape and murder is, in this context, a bit 'Women in Refrigerators" tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WomenI... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 16:16, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

I dunno about you, but I always found murder/rape a good reason to get revenge on somebody. What? Are we supposed to write stories now where the only things that people need to avenge are morally acceptable? Why the fuck would you need to get revenge if it i] something awful that happens in the first place? They're the villain's! You're not supposed to like what they do! And cheering when the villains get the shit kicked out of them is pretty much the plot of ction movie ever!DIT: Also, human t... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 15:59, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: cerebusboy L: jmebaby25 L: thosemovieguys I know the the two films were reviewed by different people, but given the first one received such a royal evisceration from Empire does it not look a bit daft to give the second one a higher score and say it's worse? Shouldn't past review be taken into account in a case like this? Not having a go - just be interested to hear some thoughts. think the reasoning also lies in the fact that the second one is a worse film ... More

Posted by jobloffski at 15:18, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ha...!

I'm loathe to review before seeing, but this is a definite home screening movie, if I ever decide to watch it that is. I saw the first one at the cinema and it was just ludicrous, and the trailer for this pointless cashing-in made my heart sink. Not surprised it's being panned. ... More

Posted by Filmfan 2 at 13:27, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Ha...!

L: Void Indigo Isn't it great how no one actually pays attention i.e. cares about Empire reviews anymore...? Yes, I am petty enough to bring this up again but - 'Attack of the Clones' - 5 Stars, 'Taken' - 1 Star.... Ha Ha Ha! You Muppets! Dude, that was ten years ago. Let it go s, all else being said, Attack of the Clones got five stars because that's what the reviewer (Chris Hewitt) thought it should get, in the same way that a different reviewer thought Taken 2 should get 2 stars. ... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 12:36, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: jmebaby25 L: thosemovieguys I know the the two films were reviewed by different people, but given the first one received such a royal evisceration from Empire does it not look a bit daft to give the second one a higher score and say it's worse? Shouldn't past review be taken into account in a case like this? Not having a go - just be interested to hear some thoughts. think the reasoning also lies in the fact that the second one is a worse film due to the action be... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 12:31, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Twice as good as the first one then?

L: siraddam How can you give Taken one star and Taken 2 two stars and say Taken 2 is better than Taken in the same review????? If Taken 2 is better then wouldn't you expect it to have more stars? ... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 12:26, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken v Taken 2.

L: thosemovieguys I know the the two films were reviewed by different people, but given the first one received such a royal evisceration from Empire does it not look a bit daft to give the second one a higher score and say it's worse? Shouldn't past review be taken into account in a case like this? Not having a go - just be interested to hear some thoughts. think the reasoning also lies in the fact that the second one is a worse film due to the action being so poorly handled ... More

Posted by jmebaby25 at 12:22, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Taken Too?

What about this for Taken 3 - Bryan Mills struggles to save his family once again but the twist is he is suffering from Aids which he contracted from an African prostitute ‘listen to me very carefully…I have full blown Aids’ ... More

Posted by jackcarter at 12:18, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


Taken Too?

Surely it should be Taken Too- a la Look Who's Talking... :-) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevos at 12:06, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


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