“…What I do best.”
I was very apprehensive about seeing this film. I’d been waiting a little obsessively since the first one and so to hear somewhat negative feedback from other reviews and friends was pretty disheartening. I’ve never been one to pay much attention to other peoples thoughts on a film (or book) as I definitely like to make up my own mind, but as this film was a must-see for me I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations…
Oh, but it did.
I thought the film was simply AMAZING. Like most sequels I definitely didn’t expect it to compare to the first, but you know what? To me, it did. You start at what I presume is a few months after the first film. The Albanian men who died at the unbeatable hands of Brian Mills are being buried and you see the remaining family plotting their revenge. Joining Neeson’s character back in LA, we see that Lenore’s separated from her new husband and that Kim has got a boyfriend.
I instantly started warming to her character at this point. I really didn’t like her in the first film; I thought the actress chosen to play her was poor and that all she did was ‘whine’ and act like a child. I know, I know. I’m being harsh. She did get kidnapped, forced into taking drugs and was almost sold into sex slavery after all. But I realised that I was wrong and that the actress, Maggie Grace, was actually wonderful. Throughout the entire film, she was brilliant and very believable. What made me like her the most was that because of her experience in the first film, she had not only grown up but toughened up too – & I’m a sucker for a strong, independent woman who comes back as a fighter.
The family end up in Istanbul to have a small holiday after a bodyguard-type mission of Brian’s. It was at this point I kept thinking, “When are they going to get taken?” “Oh God, is it soon?”. The build up was so well-done and tense that I actually ended up biting off all my nails on my right hand! When the real action starts to kick-off, boy, does it kick-off! It doesn’t actually stop. I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish! There were so many “Oh my God!” and close-call moments that I swear I nearly had a heart attack!
What I really liked (and found very unexpected), was that Kim DOESN’T get kidnapped. The trailer and other reviews lead you to believe she does, when in fact, without her actions, both her parents would certainly have died. As she narrowly escapes the men looking for her in her father’s hotel room, her dad calls her and she insists she wants to help rather than run; emphasising my point that she is now an adult and no longer a child. She gets out his big silver trunk, a map, a shoelace, a pen and some grenades and he directs her in what she must do. She doesn’t hesitate, she just does it. I won’t ruin that particularly part of the storyline as I found it really clever and well-written and executed. I just thought I’d point out that what was so compelling was to see that the ‘act’ of the ‘Protector’ and ‘fighter’ was now a family trait and was no longer just the dad’s. This rescue mission took both father AND daughter, not a team you often see in film, but one I found electric.
Lenore is just as inspiring. Kidnapped, beaten and staring into the face of the man who she knows is going to kill her, she responds to his threats by saying “Well, at least my daughter is alive.” What a brilliant moment! Neither of the two main women protagonists scream or act pathetic or cry uncontrollably. They are both very brave and you can tell it’s because the family dynamic has changed and they are going to be together again. This was absolutely FINE by me… as much as I love action films I also adore happy endings!
Something I not only noticed but fell in love with, was Brian Mills’ calibre. His extreme attention to detail, his organisation. His memory, ability to acknowledge and place noises, sounds, directions and locations. These skills made me think of one of my all-time favourite characters; Sherlock. Whether you’ve seen the films with Robert Downey Jr. or my all-time favourite, Sherlock the TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch, you’ll know what I mean. The parallels between these two characters made me enjoy the film all the more and revel in the brilliance that was Mills’ genius.
The music is used very well, as are the sound effects and the use of silence. I’m a firm believer that music makes a film and although the tracks were limited, it doesn’t disappoint. My particular favourite moment was when Brian was looking for Lenore and the song in the background was used to mirror the sounds of a heartbeat. During the car chase, with Kim driving, whenever she stopped due to a crash or obstacle, the music and sound effects broke off, for just a second, and then resumed. Those dramatic pauses had me holding my breath EVERY time.
The tightly edited scenes, especially the car chases and fights, were very jumpy, but not in a bad way. It emulated the pace of the film and the running tension that just flowed throughout the entire movie.
For me, the film finished too quickly. This would be my only criticism, that the final stand off, although powerful, was over too fast. Having said that, this is only a minor niggle and one I can easily get over.
Other reviews I have read also said that the film company decided to make the film more suitable for a wider audience, so they made it a 12a rather than a 15. Many complained and said that the action and violence was therefore edited out and lost a lot of the impact that the first in the series had. For me, this wasn’t obvious at all. Yes, I could tell when parts had been edited to be less brutal, but it didn’t really take away from the atmosphere or story. I will however be keen to see what was edited out when the Bluray becomes available!
There was so much action and brilliant fighting from Liam Neeson. I love that he is a wonderful, doting father, but in a second he becomes a powerful, resourceful fighter. I mean, he’s a very tall, big man, yet he picks up a steel bar covered in chains and is SILENT. He is quite literally a ninja. & at a phenomenal age of 60, Neeson just shines in this role. You wouldn’t believe he was a day over 40!
Overall, I loved this film. The acting was superb, the action immense and the characters developments were really interesting and likeable. What’s not to love in this film? I know a lot of people have complained, saying it’s “just the same as the first.” Well. What do you expect? It’s called Taken TWO, of course it will follow onto a similar story. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, is what I say! Besides, it’s NOT the same as the first as many have said, so don’t be led!
A THIRD film was definitely hinted at, and I for one, can’t wait. I mean come on. A cuddly, attentive father-turned unstoppable ninja called BRIAN… you couldn’t make this stuff up, could you? Well, I guess you can, actually.
I have only really one negative thing to say about this film and that’s that halfway into the film, I heard a massive snore. That’s right. My mum had fallen asleep next to me and had let a roaring noise. Thanks, mum. I thought the embarrassment of parents stopped at 21. Apparently not.
That said, PLEASE go and see this film. I’m sure, as my first film review, I’ve not done it enough credit. At least go and see it and make up your own mind rather than listen to the critics who are paid to rip apart films for a living. If you love fast-paced action, fighting, close-calls and a good storyline, then this one is for you!
I give Taken 2 4.5/5. I’ve taken .5 off for the slightly rushed ending! (Yes, I’m just being critical.) Enjoy! x