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The first Taken was a surprise hit in 2009. Naturally, studio heads demanded that a sequel needed to be made. The result is Taken 2, released last week in movie theaters nation-wide. I was nervous going into this movie, because I did not think that Taken really needed a sequel. Everything was wrapped up in the first one, and I hate it when some movies do the “same thing happens again!” troupe (see: Die Hard).
Much to my surprise (and relief), I enjoyed the movie. I should note that I enjoyed it for what it is. Taken 2 is by no means a good movie. Much of the kinetic and frantic energy which made the first one so enjoyable was completely missing. Quite frankly, I felt the action was very toned down, and it takes a good 30-40 minutes for anything to truly get started.
Then again, that was the nature of the movie. The story demanded a lot of set-up, before Liam Neeson could start breaking necks. Honestly, I liked what producer/writer Luc Besson and his cohorts did with the story. The progression felt to be a very natural continuation on the first film’s events. Plus (and more importantly), it did not feel like a rinse and repeat of the first movie. True, people were “taken”, but the execution was done very differently, and the story felt much more personal and quieter in nature than the original.
I also enjoyed the increased presence of Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace (whose playing a teenager is straining credibility). That said, I did have some issues with the role Grace played in the movie. I like Grace as an actress, but having a teenager do some of the things she does in the movie makes it difficult to buy into (how exactly is she able to climb on top of multiple buildings, lob grenades, and no one notices?). I guess with a movie such as this you just have to turn a blind eye to those kind of things.
Taken 2 is a solid B-movie. Not as memorable as the original, but it does enough to where I was thoroughly entertained for 90 minutes. Besson, I feel, got lucky here. I do not feel there is much more you can do with these characters and/or premise without feeling contrived and forced. Liam Neeson seems to agree. However, Taken 2 does leave a crumb for a sequel to potentially pick-up on, and there already is talk for a third installment going in an different direction. Here is hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.