Director: Olivier Megaton
Opening next week, Seven Psychopaths contains a scene that sums up the MacGuffin driving Taken 2 – Sam Rockwell ponders the a validity of “an eye for an eye,” concluding it doesn’t really leave the world blind, there must still be one person left with vision. In Olivier Megaton‘s world that person is Liam Neeson, playing ex-CIA operative and current private security contractor Bryan Mills. This time around he finds himself on vacation with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and recovered-from-being-taken-in-the-first-flick daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).
The set-up here involves the father of Marco (played by Rade Serbedzija), who kidnapped Kim and her BFF in Paris in the first film, seeking revenge on Bryan Mills. This leads to an actual exchange (as featured in the trailers) of “you killed my son,” with Neeson answering, “because he kidnapped my daughter” and even the audience at my local non-descript multiplex chuckled. And this sums up the problem with the film directed by the man who gave us Transporter 3 and Colombiana: it knows exactly what it is and still takes itself too seriously. It’s an action flick without time for character development. In fact, it is a remarkably economical and precise film, sharing that characteristic with its lead character.
In this film, Bryan and Lenore are taken and Kim saves the day by helping her captured father pin-point his location (he counts seconds and turns, she launches grenades and estimates how many kilometers away he is from that point, and he’s never wrong). It is fun, to the point and delivers well-executed action. It’s a product — of course, a dirty word — but it knows what it’s doing, so economically you can set your wristwatch to it.
And here I am in a critical blind spot: I had fun but we know exactly how this ends, because, as a product, it has to end. It’s predictable inserting of an action scene at every interval required by a film like this and it indeed does this aspect well. The drama is what it is, with better performances than the script deserves, punctuated early on by fireworks when Kim tells her dad that her mom described their early courtship as “magical.” The Istanbul locations, although they barely matter, are as exotic as they are also economically convenient — perfect for having our characters hop across the roofs from one building to another. For the record, I’d for once like a movie like this or a Fast & The Furious to be set in the least exotic location on earth – like Scranton, PA or Springfield, MA.
Regardless, you know if this is your kind of movie or not. There’s far worse and more painful ways to spend two hours (or, in this case, an hour and a half), but there are indeed infinitely better options, even in the same genre (re. Looper). It is wildly implausible, especially in its set-up for an inevitable continuation, after which it’ll be time for a reboot with Colin Farrell.
Taken 2 is now in wide release.
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