I have a soft spot for movies that get awful reviews- and I have found that a good number like ‘The Pirate Movie’, ‘Jake Speed’, and ‘Mammia Mia!’ to count just a few are underserving of the bad press that they got. Now part of that may well be down to the criticism to begin with , because if a film gets slated badly, then your expectations of it are low and more often then not, you come out of it saying something like “It wasn’t that bad!” or “What are the critics going on about?”.
‘Taken 2’ also falls into this category having received very lame reviews but that has not stopped its audience appeal. It has already grossed around $280 million and counting. If you did not see the original 2008 ‘Taken’, this sequel follows on from the episode where Liam Neeson plays an ex CIA Operative Brian Mills who still acts as a ‘minder’ or ‘Security Consultant’ for the wealthy, but his mind is set on putting back together the pieces of his broken relationships with his estranged wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace).
In the original ‘Taken’, Grace was kidnapped by people smugglers in France. Here, Mills makes a rare mistake by inviting his family to holiday in Istanbul, where, yes you’ve guessed it, they get kidnapped –this time by the family of the men that Mills wiped out in the first film, thus, the scene is set for Mills to do his Bourne/Bond/Rambo thing and recover them again.
This all sounds very predictable and as you might expect, you will not get surprised by any complicated plot twists, but what you do get is a superior action movie- it rises to a level above what you normally could expect by some strong performances by the trio of actors especially Liam Neeson. Yes, it is easy to say that he must be slumming it here again. Granted that ‘Taken 2’ is a long, long way from his roles in ‘Kinsey’ and ‘Schindlers List’, but you are charmed by him the playing of his character and there is subtle about his intense passion to protect his family.
Like Bond films of old, you are never in doubt as to who the bad guys are and that makes for a straight forward ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ epic. The film is violent, it is reminiscent of the Charles Bronson ‘Death Wish’ films with a very strong leading man leading his fight to the front line demolishing pretty much whoever gets in his way. But it still makes for some very good sub-James Bond entertainment that should satisfy you ahead of the real thing…