Now there is a true Tagline. Hi folks, welcome to the Tagline, where I needed to take a break to actually watch some damned movies so I could go back to REVIEWING those same damned movies. Today I'm going to do what I do best, and talk about a movie where a guy kills a whole bunch of other guys. Think back a ways, to 2008, and you'll remember Taken, a film where Liam Neeson plays former CIA operative turned private security Bryan Mills. One fine day his daughter goes on an unsupervised trip to godless and lawless Europe (France specifically) where she is abducted by sex traffickers. That probably seemed like a great idea to them, but Bryan happened to be on the phone with her when it happened, and despite the taunts of her kidnapper (who only says "good luck") he DOES in fact have good luck. See sometimes you kidnap a girl and her father is a professional murder man. As a no frills action/vigilante revenge fantasy movie, Taken was wildly successful, grossing well over 200 million worldwide on its 25 million dollar budget. As such, they could hardly be expected to risk making a sequel (or two actually). Taken 2 brings us back into the world of Bryan Mills, trying to be a less shitty dad while still doing security on the side. This film opens as Albanian mobsters, relatives and associates of the MANY people Mills killed in the first film, commend what's left of their friends and family to the earth, and swear revenge on the man who put them there. Now, if you've seen the first movie, this probably instantly strikes you as a not awesome idea on their part, but hey, they're used to having it good and probably don't know any better. But they're going to learn.
|Just look at his face. This is an annoying mindless chore to|
him, like taking out the trash. He's probably thinking about lunch.
Bryan has a job taking him to Istanbul, you know because he is still private security. His ex-wife Lenore's marriage is conveniently falling apart, and after a particularly big row with her soon to be ex-husband number two(?) Bryan offers to have her and his daughter Kim come visit him in Istanbul for a fantastic vacation/opportunity for some Albanians to get some revenge. At least that's what they think, as they bribe and torture their way into tracking down Bryan. It's like fighting and struggling so that you can fall into a spike pit full of wolverines. Anyway, Bryan and Lenore are TAKEN, and Kim evades the kidnappers. Bryan escapes and then it is high time for murder time. This is I feel like the logical resolution to the situation, and I don't really know what these Albanian guys were really expecting. If I found out that someone I knew, or even was related to had been electrocuted in a makeshift electric chair because they'd kidnapped some guy's daughter, and that he later had gone on to kill like three dozen other people, my first instinct would not be to go after the guy and his family again. Maybe that makes me a coward, but I notably haven't been shot and stabbed by anyone yet this week, so I guess there are pros and cons. The point is these guys clearly didn't get the pretty specific message he sent in the first movie, and put good money/bodies behind bad, in a revenge attempt that I think you can all guess goes pretty poorly.
|She has the good sense to change outfits shortly after this.|
So for starters, how does this film stack up to its predecessor? Well it's not as good, because it is obviously kind of a retread, but it still entertains if you're looking for the aforementioned "bad guys get what they deserve from Liam Neeson" type of film. Predictably, Liam Neeson is the best part of the film (and of most films he appears in) although everyone turns in a respectable and super serious performance. Famke Janssen doesn't get a lot to do other than be kidnapped, but it was nice to see Kim (portrayed by Maggie Grace) get some screen time doing things other than being a helpless victim. In particular the super intense "driving lesson" scene was pretty great, demonstrating that there are worse things that can happen to you in a car than your driver's license test. Like being chased by Albanians. I have to imagine after these two movies though that Albanian crime rates dropped significantly, as they now have no criminals left.
|The accelerated Drivers Ed course is brutal man.|
While he didn't direct it, Luc Besson co-wrote this movie (as well as the first and third Taken movies) and so it bears many of the signs of his handiwork, which is to say it is long on action and not as much on the cerebral side of things (some time I'll talk about Lucy, and what happens when Luc Besson tries to branch out a little). This movie is exactly what it seems like it will be, and if that's not what you're into, or what you're in the mood for, Taken 2 won't win you over. If you want to watch Liam Neeson brutalize some criminals though? You won't be disappointed.
That's it for today! I'll see you all on Tuesday.