Taken 2?? I was never quite taken with Taken, and this sequel didn’t get great reviews at the cinema, but this film is short enough to not take up too much of my time (92 mins for the 12-rated cinema version, and 98 mins for the 15-rated ‘harder cut’, so we’re already subjected to certificate deflation following the original’s 15/18 equivalents).
Retired CIA bloke Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) starts off Taken 2 pissy at the fact that his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), would rather go snogging her boyfriend Jamie (Luke Grimes) than prepare for her driving test. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world we see Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia) moaning about the man who got in the way of his plans in the first film – which has seemingly only just happened in film terms but was four years earlier in real time – and while foreign heavy Suko (Alain Figlarz, below with Neeson, so good as Serge Lemoine in the wonderful Braquo) makes information-gathering threats with scissors, but in a family-friendly way, such as when they’re inserted into the body parts that hurt, but done just off-camera, so you don’t get the full benefit of the pain inflicted.
The bad guys know that Bryan, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and Kim are off on a mini-break to Istanbul, but while it doesn’t take long before a bout of fisticuffs begins, sadly, the constraints of the lower-age certificate are brought to us, as they were in the woeful Skyfall when the quick-cut edits were so appallingly and clumsily made, causing any violent moments to appear badly-choreographed. Had they been left alone, the fights may have been quite entertaining, but as such, you may as well not have these scenes.
And when I saw Bryan off one baddie, I couldn’t tell whether he’d already snapped his neck and was dead after hitting the back of his head on a marble ledge, and Bryan was closing his eyes, or if Bryan was somehow slowly wafting his hand past his head to break his neck?
When Bryan and Lenore eventually find themselves in the middle of a stand-off, it’s ridiculous that he’s allowed to make a long-winded phone call to Kim before they’re captured, and taken to the baddie’s lair. Even more ridiculous is that anyone in this film can quite comortably tiptoe along a high-up ledge outside an apartment window. Oh, and then Bryan calls Kim and gets her to lob a grenade onto a roof-top car park, as you do, to work out if he’s in the vicinity. You begin to get the impression that cops are slow on the up-take in Istanbul.
Krasniqi declares, at one point, he wants to take Bryan to Tropojë, Albania, the homeland for his son, who the hero of the hour sought to strap electrodes to his genitals and left him to die. However, a quick Google shows that this would be no hardship because it’s actually an incredibly beautiful place, but then he’s probably not being taken along for the scenery.
In Taken 2, there’s nothing new here which you haven’t seen before, and all done much better.
At 87 minutes, Liam Neeson declares, “I am tired of it all.”. This reviewer agrees.
That said, it took over $150m at the box office, against a $45m budget so, with implausibilities as the main plot device all over the show, what next? Taken 3: Dog-napping?
And to return to the issue of lower-certificate versions being released at the cinema to put more bums on seats, Fox have hit another clanger of epic proportions with A Good Day To Die Hard. Uncut, it would receive a 15-cert, but Fox have ordered cuts to be made to strong language and violence INCLUDING the famous catchphrase, to get it down to a 12A. Come on, Fox, it is NOT a kid’s film!
For more info on how they have crippled the cinema versions of the Bruce Willis franchise, and a petition to get the uncut version of no.5 into UK cinemas, visit here.
For how it affects Taken 2, while I watched the whole film in the extended version, I compared the final scenes between Bryan and both Suko and Krasniqi, and the edits on the softer version really are even more of a shambles.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the quality of the print is sadly, very grainy, which shows up particularly in darker scenes, such as in Neeson’s indoor fight with Suko. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
Audio-wise, the film is presented in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and it’s fine for what it does, but when there’s a chase or a fight, it mainly goes for volume rather than split-surround greatness.
The extras are as follows:
- Deleted and extended scenes (6:39): Five of them, opened up to 16:9, but nothing that really needs to be put back in.
- Alternate Ending (25:00): Bryan finds out that Kim’s drippy boyfriend Jamie is actually the criminal mastermind behind it all…. no, I jest.
Seriously, there’s one main difference which involves Famke Janssen’s character, but she’s such an underwritten chracter that you really don’t care whether she lives or dies, and you can guess the outcome of that anyway.
- Black Ops Field Manual (Extended version only): One of those feature-length extras where information pops up during the film. Here, you get information like the number of baddies that Bryan has offed – and a detailed image of how they died, or a map to help you monitor chases and to show where the locations are. This is quite a useful extra, I found.
- Sam’s Tools of the Trade (3:32): This concentrates on Leland Orser’s character and allows you to discover more info about all of the equipment he has, although not all of it is used in the film. Would’ve been better if it had. More violence!
You can choose to watch him describe it all in three-and-a-half minutes, or use the ‘interactive exploration’ to check them out yourself. The end result is pretty much the same.
- Theatrical trailer (2:24): A run-of-the-mill trailer, and not the one I saw in the cinema, where Neeson snarled at the camera, threatening to find me and kill me if I didn’t watch it. I’m still alive, though.
- Audio descriptive track: The film with added vocal descriptions for those who have poor or no vision. This is for the theatrical version only.
The only thing we don’t appear to get, which the Americans do, is a promotional piece, FX Movie Channel Presents ‘In Character with Liam Neeson’, but it doesn’t sound like a big loss.
The menu features clips of the film set against the movie’s theme. There are subtitles in English, Spanish, Castilian, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Greek, Arabic, Icelandic, Indonesian, Malay, Turkish, plus a few others which I can’t make out because they’re shown in their native form and I just cannot decipher them. From the back of the box, you’d think the subtitles were in English only!
As well as the subtitles, if I have to give Fox credit for another thing, it’s that they usually put in a decent amount of chapters, here with 24.
Oh, and stupidly, there are trailers for other films placed BEFORE the main menu, rather than in the extras, where they should be. As such, I’m not listing them here.
Running time: 92 minutes (Theatrical version)/98 minutes (Extended version)
Cat no: 5505807001
Released: February 11th 2013
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio (English), DTS 5.1 (Castilian, Italian), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, and one other I couldn’t make out)
Languages: English, plus see above
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Castilian, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Greek, Arabic, Icelandic, Indonesian, Malay, Turkish, plus a few others.
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35, plus some scenes in Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Olivier Megaton
Producer: Luc Besson
Screenplay: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Music: Nathaniel Méchaly
Bryan Mills: Liam Neeson
Kim: Maggie Grace
Lenore: Famke Janssen
Murad Krasniqi: Rade Sherbedgia
Suko: Alain Figlarz
Jamie: Luke Grimes
Sam: Leland Orser
Casey: Jon Gries
Bernie: DB Sweeney
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.