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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Mystery/Suspense, Action/Adventure
Cast
Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills; Maggie Grace as Kim; Famke Janssen as Lenore; Rade Serbedzija as Murad Krasniqi
Director
Olivier Megaton (Colombiana, Transporter 3)
Distributor
20th Century Fox
In Theaters
October 4, 2012
On Video
January 15, 2013
Reviewer
Bob Hoose
Taken 2

Taken 2

Two years have passed since Bryan Mills heroically set off to save his daughter from Albanian sex-trafficking kidnapers. And since then, things have evened out for him. His security service business is thriving. His relationships with daughter Kim and ex-wife Lenore have improved considerably.

(A little brave rescuing goes a long way, after all.)

In fact, seeing that Lenore is now separated from her new husband, Bryan suggests that she and Kim take a little break and join him in Istanbul. Nothing out of line, mind you. It would just be a small holiday where the girls could relax while Bryan wraps up some business.

To the ex-CIA agent's surprise, Lenore and Kim take him up on his offer. And it looks like it could be a very nice time for all of them.

It won't be, of course. It seems those Albanian thugs Bryan killed two years ago had families full of other thugs. And all those brothers, fathers and sons have decided to set off for Istanbul too. Only they're not much interested in a holiday.

These brutes are set on revenge, and Bryan has just offered them the perfect opportunity to get it. Not only can they grab the object of their hateful obsessions, they can torture his family right in front of him—before butchering him.

Of course, as we found out in the last go-round, Bryan is not without his own resources. In fact, he has a particular set of skills … and he knows just how to exercise them.

Positive Elements

It's made very clear (again) that Bryan is a very protective dad who loves his daughter. He's forced, upon his capture, to put her in harm's way for a short time. But he immediately runs to the girl's aid once he's freed himself.

It's also evident that Bryan and Lenore still care about each other quite a lot. Bryan comforts her and does everything in his power to protect her. Kim talks of her mother's past statements of love for Bryan.

Near the end of the film, Bryan takes steps to put all the killing and hatred to rest. (Though his efforts fail.)

Spiritual Content

A Muslim imam murmurs a few words over several open graves. Two Albanians share the Islamic spiritual greeting "Assalamu alaikum."

Sexual Content

Kim wears a bikini in and around a hotel pool. We see several other bikini-clad girls lounging around a Southern California pier. Bryan peers in a window at Kim and her boyfriend in the heat of a make-out session. He sees (as do we) the young man fumbling around at Kim's clothed chest in an attempt to open her top.

The camera catches a glimpse of Lenore's exposed cleavage as she lies unconscious on the ground. A torturer runs a blade down the front of Lenore's chest—snipping at her clothes—while he suggestively leans in close to smell her. One of the bad guys talks to Bryan in lurid terms about how Kim will be sold and abused by many men.

Violent Content

Several people are tortured. And while most of the direct injuries are kept offscreen, the painful consequences are plain. For example, we see one man in the midst of being tortured, his face bloodied and his nose smashed. The torturer runs a blade down the man's torso and then stabs him in the genitals (just below the camera's view), leaving him screaming in pain. Lenore's neck is slashed, a burlap bag is jammed down over her head, and she's suspended upside down to slowly bleed to death. One attacker threatens to cut her into pieces and mail her home. Bryan is chained to an overhead pipe and beaten.

After that, Bryan makes it clear his internal mission has changed. He shifts from protecting his loved ones to making sure "these people never bother us again." And so the film takes on a tone of extinction over extrication as Bryan becomes a one-man militia, eliminating dozens of enemies with fists, feet, knives, guns and anything else he can lay his hands on. Men are shot point-blank, hit with cars, and catapulted from high staircases and walls to a crunching death below. They're battered to a bruised and bloody pulp.

A car filled with thugs is hit by a train and bursts into flames. A car chase has careful-dad Bryan pushing Kim to drive like a maniac through the streets of Istanbul—smashing into cars, barricades and shop fronts while scattering pedestrians.

Crude or Profane Language

A half-dozen s-words. We also hear multiple uses of "b‑‑ch" and "b‑‑tard." God's name is misused, once or twice in combination with "d‑‑n."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Bryan and Lenore share a glass of wine together. Bryan and his pals have beer and wine with their barbecue. Some of the Albanian thugs swig from a bottle of booze and smoke cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

Bryan secretly links to the GPS in his daughter's phone and tracks her to a boyfriend's house. Kim steals clothes (to cover her bikini) in the heat of a chase, and she and her dad steal a cab to make an escape. Bryan shoots at and kills police officers—whose connection to the Albanian killers is never explained.

Conclusion

In 2009, Taken showed up on movie screens as a raw, action flick thrill ride that sends an ex-CIA dad out to rescue his daughter in a foreign capital. And it made a whole slew of money (nearly a quarter-billion dollars worldwide). Maybe all those tickets were snatched up by middle-aged dads who wanted to imagine themselves running to the rescue, or perhaps it was just the masses who enjoy seeing villains get brutally punched in the throat. Whatever the case, that financial success meant there was bound to be a sequel. And this poorly crafted flick is it.

In 2012, does dad/protagonist Bryan Mills once again put on full display his "particular set of skills"? Uh-huh. In something of a plot extension from the first pic, he's got to save his daughter, his ex-wife and himself from a revenge-minded hoard. And that translates to scene after scene after scene of bone-breaking, head-thumping and bullet-riddling kills. But the original's sense of parental heroism and its dramatic theme of making desperate choices to save the innocent have been somewhat strained out of this one.

At one point, our hero posits a half question/half statement to one of his terrorist-like foes, saying, "If I kill you, your other sons will come and seek revenge?" The bad dude quickly affirms that assumption. And Mills quietly sums things up with, "Then I will kill them too."

It's that kill-'em-all resolve—clenched tightly in the film's hard-knuckle fist—that makes Taken 2 feel a bit like an old Charles Bronson vigilante flick. The plot does little more than use torture and ruthless thuggishness to stir up some blood in the cinematic waters and get audiences frothing and cheering for the next bombastic smackdown, the next snapped neck.

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