Obviously, make sure your Nepi-pen is easily accessible for the duration of this film. You will need it. I had to use mine twice. Warning over. Onwards with the review.
Before watching TAKEN 2, a.k.a. the sequel to the most dudefest movie we've reviewed (and also probably ever made), I found myself wondering why it didn't have a subtitle. Surely, the sequel to the greatest rampage in cinematic history not only deserves, but should be required to have, a secondary title that follows a colon. As such, after completing the film, I submitted over a dudefest dozen's worth of potential subtitles to Liam Neeson and co-writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen to be considered for the series box set that will inevitably come out after the release of the third TAKEN film in 2015. For your consumption, I have listed them below.
- TAKEN 2: TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY
- TAKEN 2: THE TAKENING
- TAKEN 2: THE DAUGHTER'S LEGAL NOW (I THINK)
- TAKEN 2: FEWER NECK CHOPS
- TAKEN 2: STOLEN
- TAKEN 2: ABDUCTION
- TAKEN 2: EASTERN EUROPE STRIKES BACK
- TAKEN 2: EX-HUSBAND OF THE YEAR
- TAKEN 2: YOUR MOTHER AND I ARE GONNA BE TAKEN
- TAKEN 2: IT'S NOT TAKEN
- TAKEN 2: ACTIONS DO HAVE CONSEQUENCES
I think the two subtitles that best sum up the movie are the last two. I went into TAKEN 2 thinking (I suppose hoping) that it would essentially be a remake of the first one with different but equally fantastic action sequences. It wasn't. Not only was the plot different, it was somehow worse. In addition, the action in this film did not live up to the original. I don't know what made it seem so different (I've yet to choreograph fight sequences in a feature film), but the action in this film was not as engaging. Maybe it just seemed easier for Neeson this time around.
The last subtitle, ACTIONS DO HAVE CONSEQUENCES, is really the underlying theme of the film (this is of course assuming that the TAKEN films are capable of having themes). Liam Neeson's character, who I believe is also named Liam Neeson, finds himself having to deal with the consequences of killing thousands of Eastern European sex traders in the first film. And how does he do it? Does he turn himself in to the Albanian government to stand trial? Does he allow the sex traders to kill him and become a martyr, a hero for all fathers who have rampaged through European cities to save their dumb daughters from a life in the world of sex trade, or a modern-day William Wallace? Does he go to Albania as an outcast but then rise to popularity via his killer dance moves? No to all of those things, especially the last one. So how does he deal with the consequences of killing thousands of Eastern European sex traders? He kills a thousand more, of course. By the time TAKEN 5 rolls around, he might have to go back in time, throw on some red, white, and blue, and kill a bunch of Soviet-era communist bastards, because there might not be any Eastern Europeans left for him to kill in today's world.
But here's the thing. Dealing with consequences is not what makes a great dudefest movie, especially a great dudefest rampage movie. One of the things that made the first film so great is that there were no consequences to Liam Neeson's actions. Paris, the location of the first film, was a magical place where if a man wanted to get his daughter back he could plow through the country killing everyone and everything that got in his way with no repercussions whatsoever. Istanbul, the location of the sequel, is like Paris's hangover. And that's essentially what TAKEN 2 is. The hangover of the first one. TAKEN 2: THE HANGOVER. Damn. I need to send in another letter.