By Chaz Lipp
There are two ways to approach Taken 2, the sequel to the 2008 smash Taken. Expecting it to live up to the original will result in disappointment. Watching it as a brainless actioner that happens to feature the same main characters will yield better results. I thought the first one was a perfect example of the genre. Part two is simply a retread that’s missing the heart and excitement that made the first one such fun.
Only Kim can help save her parents and luckily she’s game for the challenge of filling her father’s shoes. I guess in Istanbul, no one bats an eye when you start hurling hand grenades around, blowing up cars in the process. That’s exactly the kind of thing Bryan has his daughter doing in order to get his bearings when he and Lenore are tied up in an unknown location. The middle portion of the film, with Bryan and Kim working in tandem to escape Murad’s clutches, is actually pretty exciting. But Bryan’s disconcerting habit of abandoning Lenore, risking her life as she’s nearly unconscious for most of the film, is difficult to believe.
Unfortunately the cheap thrills don’t continue into the final act, which unwisely ditches the film’s strongest element (the daddy/daughter teamwork) in favor of mano-a-mano dullness. At just over 90 minutes, the film moves along quickly enough but with such an anti-climax it seems to end before it really has time to catch fire. Neeson is still magnetic as Mills, but his logic is a bit fuzzier this time around. Grace steps into her more action-oriented role with surprising verve. But I can only imagine what Janssen was thinking when she read the screenplay and realized her character, despite increased screen time, would be practically comatose in every scene.
The 1080p Blu-ray transfer looks outstanding. The cinematography (by Romain Lacourbas) has kind of a stylized look, with slightly oversaturated colors. The high definition presentation handles the look extremely well. The clarity is razor sharp throughout and the black levels are solid—great visuals all around. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is darn good, too. It may not rock quite as hard as it could in the LFE department, but the explosions and car crashes still pack a punch. Dialogue, especially Neeson’s intense delivery, sounds full and resonant.
(Photos: 20th Century Fox)