Saturday, Nov. 03, 2012
The Big Screen: Audiences are 'Taken' with Liam Neeson
By Kevin Vaughn
Who would've ever predicted that Liam Neeson would become such a formidable action star?
There was "Taken," "The Grey" and "Unknown." Now there's "Taken 2."
That's the point: Run against the curve and cast a good actor as the lead in an action film and your movie has automatic street cred. It helps that Neeson fits the part. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, he is an intimidating physical presence.
In "Taken," Bryan Mills rescued his kidnapped daughter from a crime syndicate that captures young women and turns them into prostitutes. They never imagined that the girl's father was an ex-CIA operative who was not only skilled in fighting, but took pleasure in violence. He returns to Europe, in "Taken 2," with his ex-wife and daughter, and the men he fought in Paris are quickly on his tail. The leader of the group, Murad, vows to track down and destroy Mills and his family.
Rather than tweaking the sequel, producer and co-writer Luc Bresson more or less re-create the previous film. Except this time they are in Istanbul rather than Paris, and it's his ex-wife who gets taken. Learning from the mistakes of the last abduction, the horde of Albanian mafia men are at first too many for Mills to handle. They don't count on one thing, the surprising skills of his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who failed her driving test twice but can somehow manage to drive a stick shift through a getaway chase.
And that is where the film begins to lose its appeal. As the movie falls from one cliché to another stereotype to another unbelievable feat, having a guy like Neeson just isn't enough to hold the movie afloat and separate it from it's far superior predecessor.