Taken 2 is definitely a retread, but it still manages to deliver an adequate amount of action-packed moments

In 2008, the hit Taken took critics and audiences by surprise with its tense, compact plot about Byran Mills (Liam Neeson), a retired CIA operative whose overprotective nature towards his teenage daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), comes in handy when she is abducted by Albanian human traffickers while on vacation in Paris. As Bryan explains to Kim’s kidnappers in a matter-of-fact way, “I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you,” he then spends the rest of the movie doing just that.

Now, in Taken 2, the family members of the men Bryan killed in the search and rescue mission are looking for payback, especially one father (Rade Serbedzija) whose son was tortured by Byran using electricity. The Albanians track Bryan and follow him to Istanbul on a security job and where Kim and her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) have also unexpectedly shown up to surprise Bryan. This time it’s Bryan and Lenore who are snatched, while Kim escapes and ends up helping her dad. All I can say is thank goodness for solid, action -proof cell phones or there’s no way this would have ended well.

Was a sequel necessary? No, of course not, but given how taken everyone was with Taken, it is not unexpected. Neeson plays the badass Bryan with the same compelling intensity, but his monotone proclamations of impending mayhem are not as nearly as impressive because we are expecting it.  A little creativity would have been appreciated. Still, Neeson has found a nice little niche as an action hero in this second half of his career, so as long as they keep paying him to do it, he’ll keep turning in serviceable performances.

The difference this time around is Grace, who thankfully isn’t the hapless victim (that’s left to Janssen) and does a pretty good job conveying a tougher persona gained from her previous ordeal. In particular, her driving sequence with Neeson keeps you on the edge, even if its fairly implausible, given the fact her character hasn’t been able to pass her driver’s license test and has no driving experience.

The film actually is chockfull of insane improbabilities, but I’ll suspend disbelief if it’s worth it – and there are moments in Taken 2 in which I go with it. Director Olivier Megaton is another of producer/co-writer Luc Besson’s protégés and he handles the reins pretty well. It does end with just a hint of more to come (if the main bad guy’s OTHER surviving sons decide to exact revenge) but I’m betting this will be it.