While the first Taken film was a fun, get-to-the-point type of action-film, Taken 2 is sorely lacking in what made it’s predecessor worthwhile.

Taken 2 finds Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) traveling to Istanbul for a quick bodyguard job with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who’s currently going through another painful divorce, and their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). However, unbeknownst to Brian, Rade Šerbedžija (Murad Hoxha), the father of one of the thugs from the first film, is planning revenge for the death of his son and the sons from his community. While not completely unfathomable, it immediately lacks the spark and originality of the first. Although, instead of his daughter being taken, this time it’s himself and his ex-wife.

Of the many problems with the sequel—and there are quite a few—the most immediate is the lack of tension and adrenaline. Dialogue was never the original film’s strong suit, but it packed in to the action and kept the story moving. Once the hunt for his daughter started, it never stopped. And while the sequel attempts to recreate that it’s just that, a recreation. The dialogue is even more excruciating the second time around, with an opening in which Brian has a hard time dealing with the discovery Kim has a boyfriend and is so blatantly just a set up for a forced emotional conquest later on that it just feels superfluous and can’t stand on its own.

So what happens when Brian and Lenore are finally taken? Unfortunately, not much. Rather than taking place over a few days and moving from place to place, this film runs it’s course in less than 24 hours. Not only that, but the villains are so inept there’s really no challenge for Brian and his family. Their only victory is in actually taking Brian and his ex-wife but from there they lose every battle, and pitifully at that. At it’s worst the film lacks tension and at it’s best it’s formulaic. If anything, it just illuminates why the first one succeeds. No one will argue that Taken was a great film, but it does what it does really well –and that’s to synthesize the James Bond and Jason Bourne action-thriller into something even less dense and even more about the fights.

It also had a simple yet solid problem at it’s core, that his daughter was kidnapped and he’s going to rescue her. The villains of the sequel just have some half-baked scheme to take revenge on Brian for killing their sons. As Brian points out, no doubt as the audience does almost immediately, he only killed them because he took their daughter and the daughters of many other parents. The gist of the villain’s response is a shaky “I don’t care.” So where’s the tension in that? Sure Brian is in his right to break free, but when the body count is severely lopsided (the bad guys are only after one man in the first place) it’s hard to really justify Brian being a “good guy.” His only real motivation is to escape. Sure, they’re attached to the ones who took his daughter but he got her back and there’s only so much one man can do to take down an entire syndicate. Taken 2, unfortunately, is just DOA.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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