Taken 2 (2012)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V -6; L -1; S/N -1. Running time: 1 hour 32 min.

If they plan evil against you,
if they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
Psalm 21.11

Lots of chases and fights in an exotic city in this sequel.

2012 20th Century Fox

Liam Neeson seems to be following Nicholas Cage’s example: along with making a number of films meant to be taken seriously (such as Schindler’s List; Michael Collins, Les Miserables; and more—he even voices Aslan the Lion in the Narnia movies), he accepts roles in numerous popcorn movies, such as The A-Team; Next Three Days; Taken, and now the sequel to the latter film. Neeson makes a believable middle-aged action hero performing unbelievable stunts, but we can only hope that soon he will be paired with another script more suitable to his great thespian talent.

As you might expect, the action in this film—in exotic Istanbul’s crowded streets and on it’s colorful rooftops—is ratcheted up a lot. The story begins in a cemetery in Albania where at the end of a Muslim funeral the father Murad Krasnigi (Rade Serbedzija) vows vengeance on the man who killed his son. This, of course, is Neeson’s retired CIA operative Bryan Mills, who killed the son and a small cemetery full of other bad guys while rescuing his kidnapped daughter from them in the first film.

Meanwhile in NYC Mills has been picking up the same daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) every week for driving lessons. His former wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) informs him that Kim is not there, having thrown him over for a date with her new boy friend. She pleads with him not to interfere by running a background check on the lad. Bryan does more than that—the overly protective father has already implanted a GPS in Kim’s cell phone. He tracks her down and interrupts her and the boyfriend at a most delicate moment.

This time the film develops its characters a bit more, with Lenore confessing that her new husband is an abusive rat. Bryan suggests that she get away for a while, that she and Kim meet him in Istanbul after he finishes a job of providing security for a sheik there. Thus we are set up for the heart-pounding action soon to come after the Albanians have tracked Bryan to that city.

This time it is Bryan himself, along with Lenore, who is kidnapped. With Lenore hung upside down and her throat slightly cut so that she will slowly bleed to death, the clock starts ticking. With the villains gone for a while to kidnap Kim as well, Bryan, changed to a pipe, manages to reach his fallen cell phone, reach Kim, and then give her a series of complex instructions so that she will be able to locate them and free him from his bonds. Curiosity and suspense are aroused because his instructions are to go to his room, while eluding those seeking to grab her, open his special suitcase, and take out his gun, grenades, and a map of the city. Using these and a shoestring, and the admonition to keep calm, he tells her that she will be able to locate them. Wow, what an ingenius plan, based on his keen observation of various sounds he had heard while being blindfolded and transported by the villains through the city—and of course, also involving Kim’s fleeing villains and cops over rooftops and through streets and bazaars!

Far better than most sequels, this film, directed by Olivier Megaton and co-written and produced by Luc Besson, will satisfy action/thriller fans willing to suspend belief concerning what the human body can receive in punishing blows and falls, and in what also is possible while speeding recklessly through crowded streets without killing hundreds of pedestrians and drivers. We see a streak of humanity in Bryan when he confronts Krasnigi at the climax of the film, but of course, this is not a film about reconciliation, so— Check your desire for believability at the door, buy a bag of outlandishly expensive popcorn, and sit back and enjoy the fast, bumpy ride. No need for discussion questions for such a film as this. This is not for those wanting to think but rather for those who enjoy roller coasters, and maybe even bungee cord diving.