DVD Release Date: January 15, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: October 5, 2012
Rating: PG-13 (for intense scenes of violence and action, and some sensuality)
Run Time: 91 min.
Director: Oliver Megaton
Cast: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Leland Orson, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes
Kicking off the new season of Inside the Actor's Studio this week, Liam Neeson sat in front of a group of future actors and filmmakers and discussed everything from the privilege of playing Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s masterful Schindler’s List to getting back to his Irish roots three years later in Michael Collins where he portrayed the titular character, an unlikely hero who ended up being a key player in the establishment of the Irish Free State in the 1920s.
Neeson also addressed the more challenging aspects of acting in front of a blue screen in Star Wars: Episode I and waxed poetic on the rewards of sharing a stage with his wife, the late Natasha Richardson, on Broadway and the big screen in 1994’s Nell. Perhaps, trying to prove that he’s more than just "a serious actor," he talked about how fun it was making The A-Team and gave co-star Bradley Cooper (The Words) a big shout-out for his improvisational skills.
But when James Lipton asked him about 2009’s surprise hit Taken, Neeson’s successful foray into a full-on action star territory, he was noticeably uncomfortable. As it turns out, Liam thought the film was probably headed straight to video. Of course, when a movie that reportedly cost only $25 million to make grosses more than $226 million worldwide, a sequel was practically inevitable, not that Neeson wanted to talk much about it. After mumbling something about it having a "decent" script, they quickly cut to a clip where his character Bryan Mills was showcasing his particular set of skills yet again, namely showing the Albanians who's the boss (hint: it’s not Tony Danza).
Much like Die Hard 2 or more recently, The Hangover Part 2, where basically the same story is re-told with only a minor tweak here and there, Taken 2 is nothing more than a shameless copycat of its predecessor. Really, the only thing worth praising is the sheer bravado of trying to pass this off as something new and asking the audience to suspend their disbelief to this degree.
This time around, our fearless quinquaginarian is hoping to put his violent past behind him. Seemingly content with nothing more than knowing his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, Breaking Dawn, Part 1) is safe (he’s not above spying via a chip in her iPhone to do so), his romantic prospects are looking up, too, since his ex-wife Lenore’s (Famke Janssen, The Ten) wealthy husband is basically exhibiting the same jerky behavior from the first movie.
Not surprisingly, all this newfound family bonding doesn’t last long. See, after being hired to be a bodyguard for a sheik in Istanbul, Bryan invites Kim and Lenore over for some much-deserved R&R after his assignment is completed. Unfortunately, as smart and resourceful as Bryan usually is when trouble’s lurking, he never considers the close proximity between Istanbul and Albania, the home of all the bad guys he killed in Taken.
Naturally, when people are mourning so many loved ones that a transport plane was actually required to airlift the bodies back home from France, revenge is immediately on their mind once they realize Bryan is nearby. Rather than kidnapping Kim as their first play, however, it’s Bryan and Lenore who are "taken." As grim as the situation appears, with poor Lenore hanging upside down in a warehouse with a slit throat and a black hood over her head, and Bryan chained to a pipe nearby, all it takes is a quick call to Kim with elaborate instructions involving a shoestring and a map to help triangulate their location. If that wasn’t already ridiculous enough, Mills has Kim toss around some live grenades to finish the job.
So Kim is, apparently, a quick study. Even though she's failed her driving test twice now, she’s capable of pulling some serious fast and furious maneuvers behind the wheel. Yes, folks, that's just how dumb this movie is.
As laughable as some of the antics were in the first Taken (a teenager being allowed to travel to Paris without a chaperone; a guy with no discernable muscles hurting people so spectacularly), there was still something rewarding about watching a father go to such great lengths to rescue his daughter from the clutches of sexual slavery. With Taken 2, Neeson looks like he’s merely going through the motions... though he still walks away from this ridiculousness with a sizable paycheck while long-suffering movie lovers just get taken.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking, smoking depicted.
- Language/Profanity: When compared with most PG-13 movies, the profanity isn’t nearly as prevalent. But there is still a steady stream of four-letter words, including a handful of instances where God’s name is misused.
- Sex/Nudity: A pretty strong threat is made involving Kim being sold back into sexual slavery where "she will be abused by so many men that she’ll be nothing more than a piece of meat a dog wouldn’t have." There's also some mild innuendo as Brian and his ex-wife Lenore start reconnecting. Brian bursts in as Kim is making out with her boyfriend. Kim is often shown in tight, revealing clothing.
- Violence: While not as bloody as, say, a Quentin Tarantino film, the filmmakers squeeze a lot of violence—and drawn-out torture scenes—into Taken 2. At one point, Lenore’s throat has been cut in such a precise way that she’d bleed to death very slowly while hanging upside down in a warehouse with a hood over her head. In the same room, Bryan is chained to a pipe. Showcasing just how high the body count was in the last film, a funeral showcases the mass burial that was required. Numerous scenes featuring intense hand-to-hand combat, perilous car chases, lots and lots of gunfire and explosives, all resulting in the deaths of many, many Albanians.
Publication date: October 5, 2012