Combustible Celluloid
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With: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija, Kevork Malikyan, Alain Figlarz
Written by: Robert Mark Kamen, Luc Besson
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
Running Time: 91
Date: 09/07/2012

Taken 2 (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Two Kidnappings

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Even stranger than Liam Neeson's action new movie career is that Taken 2 is a superior sequel, leaner, smarter, and more sympathetic than its predecessor.

Whenever producer/story writer Luc Besson keeps his low-budget action movies simple, he tends to succeed. The original Taken (2009) was both vicious and highly ludicrous, with annoying characters. The new sequel seems to have corrected all of that. The characters find themselves in a better place, and are more sympathetic, and the movie seems to have more of an anti-revenge stance.

The father (Rade Serbedzija) of the kidnapper from the original film wants revenge for the death of his son, and plots to capture and kill Bryan Mills (Neeson) while he's in Istanbul on a business trip. Unfortunately, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) also turn up and become targets as well. This time Bryan and Lenore are taken, and Brian employs Kim for a little outside help. Bryan escapes with Kim, but Lenore is moved to another location, and Bryan must employ all his skills to find her again. Unfortunately, he's walking right into a trap.

Writer/producer Besson and director Olivier Megaton cook up loony, inspired suspense such as a cell phone rapport between the captured father and the escaped daughter, utilizing wind direction and grenades to determine locations.

But while Megaton makes great use of the exotic locales and builds terrific tension through clever cutting, the fight sequences here are still sorely lacking; it's a blurry sludge of shapes and colors, with no idea of who's got the gun and where.

Overall though, Taken 2 is a good, solid, "B" level entertainment.
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