“I DON’T know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
With this ominous speech in 2008’s Taken, actor Liam Neeson completely altered his Hollywood persona from a serious dramatic actor to a bona fide action star.
A surprise package, Taken was an unexpected hit at the box office. As retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, Neeson has only four days to track down his daughter, Kim, after she is kidnapped by Albanian human traffickers in Paris.
Using guns, knives, fists, torture and electricity, Neeson destroys 35 bad guys during the course of the movie. Taken is a bloody, violent affair which doesn’t attempt to hide the outcomes of combat, and I really enjoyed it.
Of course, a hit movie pretty much guarantees a sequel, and in the immortal words of Bruce Willis’s John McClane in Die Hard 2, “How can the same s**t happen to the same guys twice?”
Well, Willis is now onto his fifth Die Hard film and last week, Neeson returned to the silver screen as Bryan Mills in Taken 2.
Unfortunately, if like me you prefer your brawn to come with brains, you’ll be disappointed with Taken 2 as it’s possibly one of the most stupid films of the year.
This time, Neeson takes his ex-wife and daughter (Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace, reprising their roles from the original) to Istanbul where they are targeted by the revenge-seeking relatives of the deceased Albanians from the first film, led by Rade Serbedzija (best known for playing Dmitri Gredenko in season six of 24 and numerous other eastern European baddies).
Vengeful relatives travelling to improbable locations in a movie sequel? That would be the plot of the craptastic Jaws: The Revenge (1987) stolen wholesale. In fact, I think I’d rather watch Michael Caine make a shark explode by hitting it with a boat than watch Taken 2 again.
As an insult to intelligent Albanian human traffickers everywhere, the film also utilises the ridiculous plot conceit from the original camp Batman TV series. With known lethal weapon Neeson captured and tied up with his ex-wife in a basement, the villains reveal their plans, set up a death trap for the pair and happily leave them to escape.
Rubbing salt into our wounds, to broaden the potential audience, the violence has been toned down to an M rating, alienating the action movies fans who championed the original in the first place.
Neeson turned 60 this year, which surely makes him eligible for membership in The Expendables. Despite this, Taken 3 seems inevitable.
In the meantime, go and see Looper instead or, better still, rewatch the original.