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October 10, 2012     The Sun Paper
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012, The Sun 7 At the Movies Like leftovers, 'Taken 2' not quite the same By lan Black Special to The Sun When "Taken" was released in January 2008, nobody ex- pected much from it. January, at that time, was typically a wasteland of forgot- ten action movies and thrillers that studios thought too weak to be marketable at any other time. It came as a shock to just about everyone when the film (that had looked so typical) turned out not only to be com- mercial succesS, but a critical one as well. "Taken" put Liam Neeson on the map as an action star, and the film became an overnight cult classic. There have been whispers about a sequel to the film for years. I, myself, mentioned the prospect on occasion in these reviews. It certainly made enough money, and now four years later (longer than most anticipated) the sequel has been released. Aptly titled "Taken 2," the film is pretty much the textbook definition era sequel, for good and for ill. Set not long after the origi- nal, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) is still attempt- ing to mend fences with his es- tranged family, having rescued his daughter from captivity not long ago. Mills' ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and his daugh- ter, Kim (Maggie Grace), make a surprise trip to Istanbul to meet him after he finishes a job. Kim, wanting her parents to rekindle their old relationship, lets them go to a car6 alone. Bryan and Lenore go to dinner only to be taken (title!) hostage by the father of the men Bryan had slain to save his daughter. Now, Bryan has to work out how to break himself and his ex-wife out of capture, all the while trying to help his daugh- ter avoid being captured AGAIN by different people. There's no doubt that the premise of"Taken 2" is a little bit silly. Even the title and the way the word "taken" is used so often in the film, is a little bit silly. The film has merely upped the ante. Instead of his daughter be- ing kidnapped, this time it's himself and his ex-wife, not all that long after the first kidnap- ping either. This family has ter- rible luck. Granted, it's techni- cally a revenge kidnapping, but still, it's a little bit funny. The original "Taken" was a visceral thrill ride of Liam Neeson punching his way across France, and despite the implacable nature of his char- acter, it had a kind of gritty re- alism. "Taken 2" has the exact same problem "The Hangover 2" had. It's not really a film concept that lends itself el- egantly to sequels. Or rather, the creators thought too much in the box when thinking ideas for the sequel. For instance, here's a thought: how about Bryan Mills fights bad guys for a rea- son other than someone being kidnapped? Just because the plot of the original film was what drew people to the movie in the first place, doesn't mean that everything associated with it must always be tied to that exact same setup. However, despite "Taken 2" relying too much on a very similar premise as the previous film, those expecting to see some good old-fashioned Liam Neeson beat downs and action scenes will not be disappointed. There's plenty for action movie lovers to bite into here, and the entertainment factor that Liam Neeson brings to the role alone is worth the price of admission. Again, it's not quite up to the standard set by the previous film, but I have hope that the D'VD release will restore some of the more intense content not present in the PG- 13 theatrical release, as was the case last time. Now, this film did very well this past weekend, making over $50 million. If writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen were thinking of going to the well for a third time, they might con- sider the idea era different sub- ject matter, or at the very least not making it one of Bryan Mills' loved ones.., again. And for all that is good in the word don't replace the letter"E" with the number "3." 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