I think much of the fun of 2008s “Taken” was seeing beloved thespian Liam Neeson go all Chick Norris in a dirty little Euro trash thriller. It was unexpected and it was fun. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn’t have that same gritty magic. It’s silly, talky, and with a director with the last name Megaton (first name, Olivier), I expected some heavy action, but it didn’t deliver.
Picking up where the last movie left off, the sequel sees an Albanian mafia head (Rade Sherbedgia) vowing revenge against the man who killed his son, Bryan Mills’ (Neeson). Set in Istanbul, where the Mills family—daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who was kidnapped in Paris and almost sold into prostitution in the last film, and her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen)—is trying to enjoy a quiet holiday. When Bryan and Lenore are taken by the mob, Kim must work to free them, with the assistance of her ex-CIA father’s “very particular set of skills.”
When you lay down your money to see a movie in the “Taken” family you expect to be surprised. Last time out it was startling to see Neeson as a full-on action hero as he got physical with hundreds of foes. This time they could have kept thing fresh by expanding the daughter’s role and turning her into a super spy. We get a taste of that, and despite some very dubious spy advice from her dad (“Go to the window, pull the plug on a grenade and throw it.”), we just get more of the same, only less, if you get what I mean.
Before we even get to the reason we paid to see the flick—Neeson’s grimacing and chest beating—there’s thirty minutes of budding romance, family drama and some very lame attempts at character development. All well and good for a different movie, but “Taken 2” isn’t that movie. It should be a relentless, labyrinthine adventure with an exotic backdrop but instead it feels direct-to-video generic.