Taken by Surprise (Movie Review: Taken 2)

“Listen to me carefully, Kim. Stay focused; this next part is very important. Your mother…and I…are going to be taken.”

I’m somewhat upset right now, because yesterday—having read critics’ opinions that this movie was awful—I prepared a pun for my own review. “The producers have Taken this series a bit 2 far.” I’m upset; I can’t use that now…because as it turns out, I loved every minute of this movie.

Before I start: let me clear the air and say that when it comes to movies, old or new, I’ll always start my reviews of them by specifying whether or not said review includes spoilers. That being said, this particular one doesn’t.

The general premise: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), his wife Lenore and daughter Kim go on a trip to Istanbul. There, a group of men plot and carry out revenge against Mills for his killing their friends in the last movie.

My first thoughts back in June, when I heard that a sequel to Taken was in the works:

  1. Wow, his daughter has some horrendous luck
  2. How are they going to make this different from last time?

The screenwriters addressed both. Instead of his daughter being kidnapped once again, the setup is reversed: Mills and his wife are both taken, and it’s up for Kim to rescue them (with Mills helping her from the inside).

I know it seems like I’ve just ruined the movie for you, but the thing is, that’s only the START of it. From there, Mills sets out to track down both his wife and daughter, as well as the man who took them so they never have to worry about this again.

What I liked about this movie:

  • It wasn’t anywhere near the same concept as last time; it was a nonstop chase with everyone going in different directions rather than a one-man hunt
  • The daughter and mother had much more expanded roles throughout
  • There was a definitive villain
  • It easily had as much heart/emotion as the last movie
  • Much more thought was put into the script this time around

I know, most of the critics and moviegoers disagree with this. I think the reason people didn’t like this movie is the same reason I didn’t enjoy the second Sherlock Holmes as much as the first: because it felt different.

This was nothing like the first film, where someone gets taken and Liam Neeson goes on a boss rampage to get them back. Instead, a chaotic mess results in he and his wife being kidnapped, and escape is only the first step in the nonstop adventure.

I was afraid it would just be full of car chases, shooting and not much else. There was plenty of that to go around, but also included were several touching scenes between Mills and his daughter, a rebuilding of romance with his wife, and an excellent one-on-one conversation with the movie’s villain.

If you’re worried about there not being any of the clever hunting techniques that we loved in the first movie, don’t be. Neeson still has the skills, as demonstrated at one point when he has his daughter set off grenades so he can count the seconds until he hears them. Liam Neeson is still Liam Neeson, every bit as awesome as he was the last time around. Slap that with a more intelligent script, and this is one enjoyable movie.

That being said, I want to end by warning you not to get your hopes up if you haven’t seen it yet. While the movie contains many positive aspects, it also goes in a completely opposite direction in terms of plot. If you want to see the Mills family’s story move forward, you’re getting exactly that, and it’s pretty entertaining. But if you want to be blown away, don’t expect to be. Just because it’s well-made doesn’t mean it’s the best movie ever…it just means everyone did their job in keeping the sequel from being the total wreck many people were anticipating.

So, in short: if you want more Liam Neeson in a new, fresh storyline with expanded backstory, you have it. Just don’t go in with any assumptions, and you might be pleasantly surprised by where the plot takes you. As for me, I came home last night already excited for a third installment.

And then one little snag occurred to me.

So, who’s left to take?

Rate: 7 out of 10.