TAKEN 2. Starring Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Serbedzija, Luke Grimes, Leland Orser. Directed by Olivier Megaton. 92 minutes. Rated M (violence).
Liam Neeson is an actor who seems to be able to bridge any gap between action fans and more serious cinemagoers. In recent years, he has opted for a number of action films, The A-Team, Taken, Unknown. On its first weekend in the US, Taken 2 gained $50 million at the box-office, audiences being older rather than younger.
The original Taken (with some flashbacks here for reminders) was an abduction story, security agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) has to rescue his young daughter who was taken in by a smooth-talking Frenchman and found herself captive with a group of brutal Albanian sex-trade smugglers. Mills hounds them down and rescues his daughter – of course.
This sequel is far more straightforward. The head of the Albanian gang (Rade Serbidzija) is bent on revenge for the death of his son. His wife and daughter (Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace) join Bryan for a holiday in Istanbul. As foreseen by the audience, Bryan and his wife are abducted, his daughter escaping. And, after shootouts and a smasheroo car chase, Bryan confronts his enemies – and wins, of course.
One very interesting aspect of this thriller is Bryan’s skill, not just with guns (no doubts of that) but with his mind. During the abduction, he notes all street turns, counts between each turn, notes any sounds. This enables him to calculate where he is – with the help of a concealed mobile phone and conversations with his daughter, her setting of grenades so that he can count and calculate distances from the sounds… Brains and brawn.
Down with the Albanians – again. They seem to be ready villains these years in the movies, especially targeting Eastern Europe and the sex-trade.
Liam Neeson is a big man, commanding with his screen presence, always a good man, even a nice man at times, who nevertheless draws on his guns and his wits to rescue those in peril, a hero that appeals to older audiences who can accept him as an action hero.
The film ends comfortably back in LA with some humour about his daughter’s passing her driving test (after surviving all that speed and crashing in Istanbul) and a meal where her boyfriend is invited. Well, of course, he could be the subject of abduction in Taken 3 – all that is needed is a photogenic city, after Paris and Istanbul, for it all to take place.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
20th Century Fox.
Out October 4, 2012.