Saturday, October 27, 2012

Movie Review - Taken 2

A couple of years ago I saw the first "Taken" movie. If you haven't seen or heard of it, the plot is basically that Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA operative now working security. His daughter is on a trip in Europe and calls him as she's about to be kidnapped. Neeson turns into a vengeful father and rushes across the globe to find and rescue his daughter.

The sequel follows the same basic premise but extends it even more. This time Neeson is in Istanbul along with his daughter and his ex-wife. From the opening scenes of the show we see the fathers, uncles and other family members of the men that Neeson killed in the first film while recovering his daughter. They have now sworn revenge on him for killing their sons. They track the family to Istanbul and prepare to kidnap, torture and kill all three of them.

From a high level there is a morality play going on about the ongoing cycle of revenge and how it just continues to devastate until someone finally breaks the cycle. There's actually a scene fairly near the end of the movie where Liam is talking with the main father leading the onslaught. They talk about the revenge cycle and how it never ends and how it just makes you so tired. The movie seems to try to lay out a little bit of a message, but it doesn't get much more overt than that (and it quickly becomes a moot point anyway).

I enjoyed the first movie. My one main complaint came from me watching it more from a "realism" standpoint and less from an "entertainment" standpoint. The dark theme and troubles bothered me and detracted. However, in looking back and rewatching just from a pure "popcorn thriller" perspective, the movie was a lot of fun.

Taken 2 ups the ante in many ways but in many other ways it remains almost precisely the same as the first movie. This is a good thing. They stuck to the pattern for things that worked and just tried to boost the adrenaline.

As with the first one, I'm probably going to over-analyze this one a bit. Sorry. I'll try to keep these spoiler free.

There were a few scenes and plot points that pushed the envelope of disbelief for me. Some were just movie-making quirks (like why wasn't his wife's hair caked with blood after her torture scene).

First: Instead of having his daughter or his wife or both be taken…it ends up being Liam and his wife that are taken. Thus, for a portion of the movie we have to watch his daughter working to rescue them. I have no doubt that in a crisis she would be capable of a rush of inner strength. But she was still suffering very psychologically from her first ordeal and it I might rather have seen her contact one of her dad's associates to help out since I suspect she would have totally broken down mentally at that point. Maybe not though.

There was a very brief scene at the American Consulate that turned me skeptical as to how they would get out of the situation they've just created. Instead of some pithy discussion or escape sequence, the writers/directors just skip ahead in time leaving us to just assume what we will about the situation. Totally skipping over that obviously problematic scene really pulled at my sensibilities. It made me wonder why (other than for the explosions and destruction) they had to have the previous scene end the way it did.

Anyway, those are my pretty minor "gripes" and they're not really even gripes so much as observations.

This movie was an entertaining, action-packed thriller. Definitely just a movie for the escapism moments. There are some great chase sequences, fight sequences and detective-style sequences. If you liked the first one, you should enjoy this one. It amps things up but doesn't take it to a new level or in a new direction. If you haven't seen the first one, you should probably watch it first although that's definitely not a pre-requisite. This isn't a "thinky" film…you don't need to know the full back-story. If you didn't like the first one, chances are you won't be a fan of this one either depending on what you didn't like about the first film.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and I think I enjoyed it a little more because the overarching theme and messaging was slightly less dark and disturbing (granted, they are kidnapping and torturing his family) than the theme of the first film.

A fun and exciting thrill ride.

4 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

nice...i had hopes for this one...i really enjoyed the did push on the realism but....cant wait...hope you and the fam have a great saturday