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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

Ha...!

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! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Void Indigo at 11:58, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


Twice as good as the first one then?

There isn't much consistency at Empire!! How can you give Taken one star and Taken 2 two stars and say Taken 2 is better than Taken in the same review????? I am a bit concerened to hear that Olivier Megaton is directing though!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by siraddam at 11:18, 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. This came up a lot on the Transformers: Dark of the Moon thread (which got less stars than RotF even although Empire ... More

Posted by cerebusboy at 10:32, 20 September 2012 | Report This Post


Am going to see it whatever !

Loved the first film and from the trailers i can see i'm gonna enjoy the second.i remember the reviews of the first film been terrible but like the empire man said it made a shit load of money regardless. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rtb2k6 at 22:22, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Megatron!

L: Cool Breeze L: Invader_Ace comes to lensing combat. Time and again ... the resulting scraps ... unfold so confusingly — thanks to shakycam, overcranking and merciless strobe-cuts — that it appears he’s editing people to death.od Damn you, n!  ou killed Transporter and now Taken?!  Damn your eyes! I'll still see it.  That's the worst thing.   he guys name is MegaTON.Hes not a Decepticon from Transformers! nyway two stars? That means its twice as good as the first fil... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 20:54, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Megatron!

L: Invader_Ace comes to lensing combat. Time and again ... the resulting scraps ... unfold so confusingly — thanks to shakycam, overcranking and merciless strobe-cuts — that it appears he’s editing people to death.od Damn you, n!  ou killed Transporter and now Taken?!  Damn your eyes! I'll still see it.  That's the worst thing.   he guys name is MegaTON.Hes not a Decepticon from Transformers! nyway two stars? That means its twice as good as the first film! Im there! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cool Breeze at 20:49, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


Taken v Taken 2.

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. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by thosemovieguys at 19:00, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Megatron!

Taken2 average? Well I never. ... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 17:38, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Megatron!

comes to lensing combat. Time and again ... the resulting scraps ... unfold so confusingly — thanks to shakycam, overcranking and merciless strobe-cuts — that it appears he’s editing people to death.p; God Damn you, Megatron!  First you killed Transporter and now Taken?!  Damn your eyes!   I'll still see it.  That's the worst thing.   ... More

Posted by Invader_Ace at 16:50, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: ahem...

L: jackcarter if its worse than part 1 shouldnt it get ½ star? ;) that aside will probably wait for the 18 rated cut on dvd as with the first BOOM! Congratulations - you win the prize*. I wondered when the first comment would pop up to compare the reviews. Both films were reviewed by different critics. ly there is no actual prize. ... More

Posted by jmebaby25 at 16:38, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Megatron!!!!

It appears that if you're US Special Forces, the best way to ensure that your life remains stressful after you've left is to name your daughter Kim. ... More

Posted by AxlReznor at 15:57, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


Megatron!!!!

he fucked the 'transporter' franchise and now he's done it again it seems. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spark1 at 15:13, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: ahem...

I'm saving my pocket money for when they make Taken vs Tekken ... More

Posted by bennyboy1971 at 15:05, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


ahem...

if its worse than part 1 shouldnt it get ½ star? ;) that aside will probably wait for the 18 rated cut on dvd as with the first ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackcarter at 14:21, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


-

edit ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by grucl at 14:18, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


-

This thread should be good since the review of the first film is something of an "anti-AOTC" around here... *grabs popcorn* Let the fun begin! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by grucl at 14:18, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


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