Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Did you love 2008’s Taken? Well, then you’ll love Taken 2! There, easiest review I’ve ever written!
The sequel, with new director Olivier Megaton at the helm, involves our protagonist Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his family being hunted by the father of his infamously electrocuted Taken victim, and boasts a paper-thin (often laughably inconceivable) plot, shaky-cam and zoom-laden action sequences, and cringe-worthy one-liners. But it does what it needs to do – namely, set up a bunch of bad guys for Neeson to gun/punch/strangle/wrestle into submission. And at the end of the day, Taken 2 is awesomely bad stuff, just like its predecessor.
As it happens, Taken 2 — by my interpretation — is also something of a wish fulfillment-tale for fatherless daughters. Speaking as a girl whose dad is no longer around, I’d love to be coddled, lectured, advised and protected by a patriarch like Neeson’s Mills. He’s my version of a superhero, in that way, so consider me biased, if you must. Taken 2 offers plenty of these father-daughter moments , along with opportunities for Kim Mills (Maggie Grace) to participate a bit more actively in the action.
So, what are the rules, according to Taken 2? If I were to dispense guidelines based on the film’s characters and plot devices, they’d go something like this:
• Don’t travel overseas. As was the case with Kim’s trip to Paris in the first film, all of the drama unfolds when the Mills family hops an ocean to Istanbul. So put down your passport. I hear Walt Disney World is lovely this time of year!
• If you must venture across borders, don’t pack a pair of cuticle trimmers. In the Taken universe, the adage of not owning a weapon that could be turned on you applies to personal grooming items as well.
• Don’t be afraid of the main bad guy, fear his henchmen. Any Taken antagonist wouldn’t dare get his hands dirty; he’s simply around to dispense his dastardly plan before he leaves our savvy protagonist to his wits in an empty room. (See also: that time when he stares longingly at the Lady Mills, played by Famke Janssen, and then sics his right-hand man on her for a dramatized dance with torture implements.)
• When all else fails, play it off as homage to Nicolas Winding-Refn. There are two key scenes that scam music from Drive‘s soundtrack (one of which oh-so-coincidentally takes place in an elevator).
• Setting off grenades in residential areas is totally commonplace in Istanbul. It won’t arouse suspicion or pursuit from the local authorities. Carry on!
• Exit the car casually, walk through the door, take your first right, walk down the alley, take your second left, ascend the third set of stairs, take your fourth right, walk through the courtyard, hit the “open” button behind the sixth patch of lilies, walk through the gate, take the key from under the large boulder at 10 o’clock and open the red door. You’ll find a taxi stand; hail a cab, take it to the American Embassy and tell them you need help. Did you get that? (If you exist in the Taken universe, yes. Yes, you did.)
So there’s that. I’ve successfully prepped you to revisit the world of your favorite butt-kicking ex-CIA operative. As his daughter laments, “What are you going to do?” Mills deadpans, “What I do best.” I can’t contest that, because, despite all the flaws of Taken 2‘s plot, Neeson’s substantial action chops are on full display. It’s fluffy, bloody, ridiculous fun.
Taken 2 opens Friday nationwide.