Friday 5 October 2012

Review: Taken 2

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Taken 2 poster

Taken 2
90 mins / Dir. Oliver Megaton

Why, oh why, didn't they adopt the Step Up strategy and call this 'Taken 2: Istanbul'? They missed a trick, there. Ah well.

As with its predecessor (which I watched for the first time last weekend), I found there to be a nasty layer of xenophobia* covering the whole film. In both installments, the lack of characterisation for the antagonists serves to paint them as "nasty foreigners", and they become cartoon punchbags for the righteous Bryan to smack, break and shoot for ninety minutes. The most painful of all is Rade Šerbedžija (you know him: Boris The Blade), who you've got to feel pretty sorry for as his typecasting hell drags him down to new lows. He's given a clichéd graveside speech about Revenge™ at the start of the film, which is followed up by his character being a weasely all-mouth-no-trousers type, right up to his final unconvincing scene. All other bad guys in Taken 2 are crudely drawn stereotypes, straight from the imaginations of Eastern-European-fearing Daily Mail readers. Naturally, Neeson's character kills them all. Hey, they deserve it.

My biggest beef with the film? It's entirely joyless. As much as Neeson looks outraged and vengeful, and as much as his adversaries are painted as not very nice people, I found no real engagement in him systematically killing them. If anything, it seems to get grubbier with each Albanian body hitting the floor, and the Turkish police being either completely inept or just not present (similar to the Parisian police, in that respect). This also points toward the stunning lack of character development in regards to Neeson's Bryan and his family. Other than seeing him having a barbecue with the guys every once in a while, and holding obvious father/daughter issues, we're meant to take it as read that he's morally untouchable; this despite the fact that he's ex-CIA and currently working freelance private security. Definitely not a mercenary, then. There's little doubt who's 'good' and who's 'bad' in Taken 2, but I find it particularly hard to sympathise with anyone other than his daughter's boyfriend…

Oh, and in addition to the ridiculous amount of gunfire let off in public here, Bryan gets his daughter (completely untrained in firearms and explosives) to set of three (three) grenades in public places, purely to judge distance/location. Yay for vigilantism! This is part of a series of eyebrow-raising moments that I can't be bothered to list, mainly because the rest of the film's so unpleasant.

At best, it's solidly below-average, but I'm also acutely aware that many of the reasons I didn't enjoy it are down to me, not the film-makers. Pffft.


If you liked Taken, you'll probably like this. It's more of the same, with everything that implies.

* For the record, my feelings on the first film were as follows: It's essentially a thinly veiled allegory for a country that can't handle its immigration problem, and thinks it'd be marvellous if America™ came in and sorted it out for them, because 'them forrins are up to no good'. Doesn't necessarily apply exclusively to France, it just did in this case. That's entirely my opinion, of course, and I'd be delighted to read your explanation of why that couldn't possibly be the case.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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