‘Taken 2’ boasts particular set of skills

Article Published: Oct. 25, 2012 | Modified: Oct. 25, 2012
‘Taken 2’ boasts particular set of skills

Liam Neeson stars in ‘Taken 2.’

With the release of 2008’s “Taken,” the venerable Liam Neeson efficiently throat-punched his way into action hero status.

More so, the filmmakers didn’t take any cheap shots. “Taken” was an engaging thriller that took audiences and critics by surprise, brandishing a no-holds-barred approach, a tight pace and taut action that almost effortlessly undermined its PG-13 rating.

Why mess with success? Because in Hollywood, it’s inevitable – and profitable. In the case of the recently released “Taken 2,” however, it’s also mindlessly fun.

“Taken 2” effectively flaunts those action chops, but falls short on substance. The sequel doesn’t engage its audience through narrative and storytelling, but rather viewers’ expectations to see Neeson kick some Eastern European butt. And in that brand of ass-kickery, it delivers. It’s the rare example of cookie-cutter action that actually works.

To paraphrase Neeson’s character’s famous line, it boasts a very particular set of skills, but that’s about it.

Neeson (“The Grey”) is back as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, who’s attempting to rebuild his relationship with daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, “Knight and Day”) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, “GoldenEye”) after the harrowing events of the first film, in which Kim was kidnapped by Albanian sex-traffickers.

Bryan had disposed of the kidnappers with deadly efficiency, which apparently caught the ire of these despicable villains’ family members back home, Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija, “The Fog”) in particular. Despite his son’s horrific crimes, Murad and his cohorts seek “justice” and set out to extract vengeance on Bryan and his family, who happen to be vacationing in Istanbul.

This time, however, it’s Bryan and Lenore who are taken, leaving only Kim to help him escape, so he can once again use those skills that make him a nightmare for people like Murad.

As such, Bryan takes to the streets, back alleys and courtyards of Instanbul, where he proceeds to make the kidnappers’ lives a living hell, before snuffing them out. The action is swift and brutal, much akin to that of the first film, which should satisfy action junkies and “Taken” fans alike. Needless to say, the fighting is top-notch and well choreographed, and the 60-year-old Neeson doesn’t miss a step.

The story is lacking, as if the screenwriters picked the simplest and most obvious way to bring Neeson back in action, and the character’s attempt to patch up his familial relationships is simply padding to bookend the bone-crunching action.

Director Olivier Megaton (“Colombiana”) seems well aware of this, however, presenting what boils down to a high-budget, action-packed B-movie. Bearing this in mind, “Taken 2” tackles its objective, and then punches out its teeth.

“Taken 2,” rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 16-B or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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