Taken 2 [Celluloid Hero]
Taken 2 (2012)
The first "Taken" turned Liam Neeson into an ass-kicker. He always had an intimidating presence, even in dramatic roles, due to his stature and looks and voice. He never really struck me as someone not to mess with, but the "Taken" along with "The Grey" are pushing him up into the action-star area.
It's a cliche to say that the sequel is never as good as the original (with the obvious exception when it comes to trilogies or franchises), but the cliche applies here. The first movie was exciting, following Neeson as he attempts to rescue his kidnapped daughter. The sequel picks up shortly after, with the numerous men he killed in the first movie being avenged by their loved ones.
When "Taken 2" was first announced, there was a lot of eye-rolling from critics. How would it be any different from the first? How could Liam Neeson's character allow something like this to happen again? "Taken 2" manages to work around those two questions by changing things up just enough and attempting to make a real justification. The difference is that this time it's not his daughter, but his wife (and for a short time, himself) that get taken. It's somewhat ridiculous to believe that a group of Eastern European men would be able to find and abduct a man with Neeson's "set of skills", but it was also ridiculous in the first movie to believe that one man could take down an international sex-slave ring.
Your expectations have to be set realistically when you approach movies like this. I don't think I'm going to see Shakespeare or Citizen Kane; I understand it's a fun action movie with guns and fights and explosions. Still, I never really got into this. The pacing really threw me off. The beginning took a while to re-establish the characters from the first movie and show where they are now, but even devoting as much time as they did, it still felt glossed over, without any real depth. It got to a point where I kept glancing at the clock, trying to figure out how much time had passed or how much was left. Things happened very slowly, then rushed, then dragged again. The movie just never settled into a comfortable tempo.
Again, I wasn't expecting high drama. I still felt let down. The action scenes were fun, but weren't fun enough to make up for the rest of the failures. I was disappointed because I do enjoy Neeson, I enjoyed the first, and I at least hoped for some replication.