Liam Neeson kicks more ass

‘Taken 2’ gives fans exactly what they want

by Jase Howell

Liam Neeson is back to reprise his role of Bryan Mills in “Taken 2.”

Not much was expected of its predecessor, “Take,” but Neeson and director Luc Besson turned it into a blockbuster hit. Besson is probably best known for his “Transporter” series, which, like “Taken,” has been a surprise smash. Knowing Besson, there was no doubt he would make a sequel.

If you recall, Neeson in the first film portrays a retired CIA operative whose teenage daughter has been kidnapped during a trip to Paris. The plot was simplistic enough: Mills flies to Paris, finds bad guy after bad guy, and kills them all while tearing the city apart en route to rescuing his daughter.

The idea of Neeson as such a character was plausible enough considering his age, and Besson applied his trademarks of lots of guns, martial arts and car chases. But was there really a need for a sequel, other than a guaranteed huge payday? Probably not, but Besson (this time just in producing and writing capacities) and director Oliver Megaton (“Columbiana”) know enough not to mess with a winning recipe.

Not much time seems to have elapsed between the last adventure and where we find the characters in Los Angeles, however, much has changed. Mills is still semi-retired and doing hired bodyguard work here and there for some very high profile people. His daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is struggling to get over her ordeal and has a new boyfriend, much to Bryan’s chagrin. There are some pretty great scenes when he finds out about her beau. Brian’s exwife, Lenore (Famke Jansen), meanwhile, has warmed up to him, but is having issues with her second husband and maybe looking at divorce No. 2.

So we find Mills on assignment in Istanbul, where he comes up with the idea of Kim and Lenore joining him there for a vacation after his work is complete. I’m not sure it’s a good idea for this family to be traveling anywhere beyond the United States, but never mind. What Bryan doesn’t know is that the bodies of the Albanian syndicate members he wiped out when he rescued Kim in France are be returned to their village, and revenge is being sworn on their killer. These Albanians in a small village have some incredible resources, because in no time they have Mills’ name, the dates he is to be in Istanbul, the hotel he is staying at, and knowledge that his family will be joining him.

If it was a little far-fetched to buy Liam Neeson tearing Paris to shreds, it’s really a reach to see his pampered daughter running around tossing grenades from roof tops. Nothing, however, is as funny as her racing around Istanbul in a Mercedes avoiding the Albanians and Turkish police. Jason Statham would be proud. Of course, it’s only a matter of days before she fails her driving test because she can’t parallel park.

Let’s be honest, nobody is going to “Taken 2” for the plot or dialogue. Fans of Besson’s films know what they want — a lot of action, and the less dialogue the better. In that respect “Taken 2” works; it gives fans exactly what they enjoyed in the first one. If it is a bit short, like its predecessor, and not greatly different it doesn’t matter, it’s still fun. Neeson once again kicks any and all foes’ behinds and outthinks them every step of the way. That’s entertaining enough, but now with Lenore involved and Kim working on her getaway skills perhaps he is building a team.

I don’t know if Neeson will do another “Taken” film, but I have to admit that after viewing the sequel I think the exploits of Bryan Mills are entertaining enough for a third. The only problem now is he has no more family members to be kidnapped. But I’m sure Besson could work around that.