Monday, December 10, 2012

“Taken 2”: Father, Daughter, Cars, Guns, Cool

I taught both of my daughters to drive a stick, and I’m sure they could handle the stunt driving scenes in “Taken 2.” But I wouldn’t want them to try.

Chased through the back streets of Istanbul by Albanian bad guys in the mandatory pair of dark Mercedes, dad Liam Neeson and daughter Maggie Grace commandeer a yellow cab, and he tells her to drive. She says she can’t. “Can you shoot?” he asks. “No!” she screams as the first Mercedes appears through the rear window. “Then drive!”

The dialog in “Taken 2” never rises much above this level, and as an actor Liam Neeson doesn’t seem to have the chops for much more. Yeah, I know he played Schindler. But in his latest, a sequel to (guess), his emotions are confined strictly to the visible-light spectrum. In an early scene at a cookout with three American “buddies” he sounds as stiff as Prince William at an Elks happy hour.

But man o man is he cool. Man does he kick tail. As does “Taken 2.” And only 90 minutes. I still had time for a nap.

Before the wives and mothers of the world unite against me and march on Washington in outrage over this review, let me add that there is a wife and mother in the mix here. Famke Janssen plays Neeson’s estranged wife and Grace’s mom, and she will need rescuing too before “Taken 2” is over.

The forty-six Albanian thugs that Neeson shoots, pummels, and eviscerates are beyond rescuing. The big bad daddy of them all tells our hero very near the end of “Taken 2” that he has two more sons back home on the Adriatic who will take revenge if Neeson kills him.

I’ll leave you to guess whether Neeson kills him, bringing the head count to forty-seven and leaving the door open for “Taken 3,” but given that “Taken” did $145 million in domestic box office in 2009 and that “Taken 2” is only $8 million behind the original and still running—well, OK, he kills him.

Sorry to spoil the ending for you. But the first 89 minutes are still anybody’s guess. And cool. Very cool.

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