2008’s “Taken” was a surprise hit that let the box office on fire. It was a certified adrenaline rush. But the problem was it was a one trick pony. The case was open and closed not leaving anything unexplored. So instead of getting creative the producers of the film asked, “How do you make a sequel without really trying?”

“Taken 2” finds former CIA operative Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) on vacation in Istanbul with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace). They think that their troubles are behind them but a group of Albanian terrorists, hell bent on vengeance, have assembled to bring down Brian Mills by any means necessary.

The thing that was hardest about making the sequel was you just can’t have another Mills family member taken. So you only other alternative is have Mills himself get taken except with a twist. The wife gets taken too! (Food for thought, why not call the sequel TAKEN TOO then?)

This is a lame duck sequel as any I have seen. The action scenes are stiff. The tension just isn’t there. Believing that Maggie Grace can run through the streets of Istanbul lobbing grenades off the sides of buildings and not get shot or arrested is ludicrous.

The only saving grace is Liam Neeson really. Even in the hokiest of scenes he still gives it his all. He even stays intense and keeps a straight face while delivering the line, “Listen to me carefully, Kim. Your mother is gonna be taken.” How lazy can a screenwriter get?

I just wish this movie was a genuine and entertaining sequel. Neeson’s character is very similar to Edward Woodward’s “The Equalizer” from the 1980s. That show went almost 100 hours. They had a chance to turn Brian Mills into the next Jason Bourne or Jack Ryan and they botched it. They needed to go outside the box and think bigger!

2 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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