Not taken by surprise with ‘Taken 2’

Christina Bennett

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Four years ago when audiences discovered “Taken,” it took them by surprise with the leading character’s unapologetic quest to find his daughter. Unfortunately with “Taken 2,” predictability tramples on originality, and the gratification viewers received from the predecessor is gone.

“Taken 2 “ directed by Olivier Megaton  and co-written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, showcases their original cast. Liam Neeson reprises his role as Bryan Mills, Maggie Grace as Kim and Famke Janssen as Lenore.

Neeson is dynamite in his performance as Bryan Mills, delivering a convincing and entertaining portrayal of an intrepid lethal agent.

Janssen’s character Lenore is made to be more likeable in this film while Kim, played by Maggie Grace, is slightly more mature and plays a more central role.

Mills finds himself in a similar, but different predicament of having to protect his daughter and his ex-wife from the first film’s victims’ relatives who lust for revenge.

The setting this time is Istanbul, and once again the thugs underestimate Mills’ “particular set of skills” leading, unsurprisingly, to more havoc at the hands of the retired CIA operative.

What the first “Taken” succeeded in doing as where the sequel falls short, is achieving a multi-layered emotional impact on audiences. By exposing the very real and disturbing reality of human trafficking in the first movie, audiences rooted for Mills to catch the culprits.

Finding and ultimately killing those involved in the crime ring, struck a chord because it was justice to girls enslaved by traffickers. Mills was a man on a mission, chiefly to find his daughter, but he racked up a high body count of remorseless traffickers in the process.The psychological impact of watching Mills exert control over what seemed like an uncontrollable situation was cathartic for audiences, who silently cheered at Mills’ every trigger squeeze.

“Taken 2” does not pack the same punch. Although suspense and action are plenty, it is formulaic. Mills is on the defense this time, and partly entrusts his fate to his daughter who becomes an accomplice in the destruction.

Bad guys never learn though, and Mills is their willing teacher; although he confesses at one point how he is “tired of all of it,” presumably referring to the killing.

The film accomplishes it’s goal to appease the masses, but is simply a continuation of the original film and falls prey to sequel syndrome.

Senseless killing does get old, yet Taken 2 is still worth the ticket price if you are desperate to see Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in action.