Lowdown: Liam Neeson and family can’t shake the habit of getting kidnapped.
If some future historian bothers to investigate the development of this prolific, elaborate and humble movie critic into his current form, then one of the key events that historian will need to look at is the night my best friend & I went to watch Top Gun at the cinema. Oh, what a night! It was rainy, the cinema was crappy, but oh what a movie experience it was – we laughed ourselves to [almost] death.
Surely you are aware of the fact Top Gun is no comedy. In your face! Top Gun is the best comedy ever. Especially if you get to read the Top Gunk parody published by Mad Magazine before you watch the movie – it really primes you up!
What I am trying to say here is that Top Gun is a movie so silly, so stupid, it has to make you laugh with the seriousness it takes itself with. And if you’re already in a comic state of mind (a virtue Mad Magazine is fully able to bestow upon its readers) then the path to fully enjoy this silly action comedy is paved full of yellow bricks.
Since that night with Top Gun and my best friend I have been trying to replicate the experience. Alas, I was generally unsuccessful. Perhaps it was the burden of expectations; perhaps the sheer [lack of] quality material. But then came Taken 2, and without Mad to help but with my wife by my side I had found this good old bottomless pit of laughter: an action film so serious, so silly and so stupid that I found myself laughing from start to finish. A film that tries to glorify things I and every rational person should consider bad.
There is no attempt to supply any form of originality with Taken 2. Our broken American family from Taken is back, with the events of that film helping to mend relationships between ex husband (Liam Neeson), ex wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace). Neeson, still a body guard, just finishes off a private assignment at Istanbul; the rest of the family joins in for a surprise visit. Little do they know that also joining is the father of the gang member whose gang Neeson wiped clean in the first Taken, and that father (& gang) are intent on revenge. Not only that, they are obviously bad assess, one by one. Not only that, they speak Arabic, by now Hollywood’s Universal Language of Evil (even though they hail from Balkan countries that speak no Arabic, but hey).
Unlike Taken, where the daughter was “taken”, Taken 2 spins off at a completely different, dare I say original (I don’t) direction: it’s the husband and the wife that get “taken”. Those Arab speaking evil dudes are stupid, though: they actually think they can get the better of this white, English speaking, pure blood Western. In your face, evil henchman! Neeson would come and pick you one by one like the Death Reaper, in totally predictable yet outrageously silly ways that lack any ounce of thrill or excitement but are nevertheless extremely funny to watch for their very silliness.
At the end the bad guys win and our family is dead and forgotten.
Nah, I’m messing with you. Like Maverick at his time, nothing - not even the potential to trigger World War 3 - can come between our hero of the West and his fulfillment of the American dream. Seriously, though: why is Neeson messing around in this sort of crap is beyond me.
Overall: Pathetic through and through and well “deserving” of 1.5 out of 5 stars. Yet for all the wrong reasons I enjoyed the pure delight that was Taken 2 from start to finish.