Laziness and limp action are chief among this sequel's particular set of ills.
DIRECTED BY OLIVIER MEGATON
Just how lazy is Taken 2?
So lazy that, in addition to retreading the oddly jingoistic plot beats of its improbably profitable predecessor (a jaunt to a picturesque European metropolis is marred by the machinations of swarthy Albanian sex traffickers, who suffer an almighty comeuppance at the hands of Liam Neeson’s overprotective, preposterously competent ex-CIA pater), even its soundtrack cribs conspicuously from Drive.
Ironically monikered director Olivier Megaton (of duds Transporter 3 and Columbiana) borrows both “A Real Hero” and “Tick of the Clock” from Nicolas Winding Refn’s thriller, but here employs them to far less scintillating effect. Similarly, next to the first Taken, Megaton’s manic action staging saps much of this sequel’s punch. Pierre Morel’s relatively coherent framing helped sell the urbane Neeson as a bona-fide badass, but Megaton’s addled cutting does the aging actor no favors. If we didn’t know better, Megaton’s reluctance to sustain a shot for more than a instant might seem like a strategy to allow Neeson to pause for breathers between blows.
By now, of course, Neeson’s reinvention as a big-screen tough guy has been thoroughly consolidated. But this fact also further disadvantages Taken 2 in comparison to the the first film. In 2009, it was something of a shock to see the Oscar-nominated Neeson gamely busting heads in such unabashed schlock. Three years on, B-movies have become his bread and butter, and Taken 2, despite being considerably less plausible than the original, is correspondingly bland.