Complete A-Z list

Taken 2 (AF)


Stars: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Sherbedgia, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, Luke Grimes, D.B. Sweeney

Director: Olivier Megaton

I wouldn’t claim Taken 2 to be a work of art.

It isn’t.

Clearly it’s aimed at filmgoers who made the first film popular and on that (and possibly disgracefully anti-intellectual) basis, it succeeds, offering action, thrills, suspense and then more action, rather than a groundbreaking or credible plot. In any case, credibility should hardly matter when, say, North by Northwest is righty hailed as a milestone and/or cinematic masterpiece.

Olivier Megaton is patently no Hitchcock but in his brisk, straightforward translation onto the screen of Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s direct screenplay, he hits all the right buttons for an adrenaline-inducing, intellect- avoiding action thriller.

Too many sequels simply suck, and offer little but the price of a ticket as they seek to set up a franchise. I found Taken 2 a happy exception to this rule.

While the film's about as credible as an electioneering US Presidential candidate, Megaton moves the action fast enough to drive the show over the plot-holes, satisfying himself – and action-and-thrills addicts – in the process.

First seen in L.A. coaching his 15-year-old daughter Grace, to pass her driving test, Neeson (enviably spry at 60) acquits himself well in his role of retired former intelligence agent. He even builds bridges with ex-wife Janssen, inviting her and Grace to join him on holiday in Europe.

Bad move. Albanian thugs led by Serbedzija, who wants vengeance (“We will punish him, we will bring him here … we will have our revenge”) on for Neeson killing his son in Taken, kidnap mother and daughter and, unfortunately for them, unleash Neeson’s inner punisher…

The plot is an efficient skeleton for a series of slick and suspenseful thrill-and-action sequences, which, on examination, probably may not hold water.

But who the hell would be using this film as an umbrella?

These sequences include a thrilling foot chase through people and junk- clogged Istanbul streets and an even more thrilling chase, this time on four wheels, as Neeson uses the opportunity to give Grace another driving lesson as she drives like a demon through eye-watering traffic to escape the pursuing Albanian killers, ending in a highly unusual entry into Istanbul’s US Embassy.

And, finally, it’s up to Neeson to right wrongs. Which he does in fine kick-ass style, making his A-Team character seem just a tad wimpy in comparison.

If it’s plausibility you’re after, forget it. This is cheerfully mindless action entertainment at its most enjoyable.

Alan Frank

USA/Turkey 2012. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox . Colour by deluxe.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 01 Oct 2012