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Bad Movie Tuesday: Taken 2 and the Dynamics of a Bad Action Film

January 22, 2013

What is the number one reason people would watch a sequel to the surprise hit Taken? The answer is simple. People want to watch Liam Neeson hurt people and speak authoritatively into phones.


Taken 2 Liam Neeson beating up thugs

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Taken 2 brought in $50 million it’s opening weekend and amassed a fortune overseas. It proved that Moviegoers love to see Neeson destroying men who kidnap daughters. However, Taken 2 opted for a PG-13 rating and waiting about 40 minutes for the first face punch. The goodwill the first film created quickly dissipated into poor reviews and disappointed action junkies. Why all the dislike?  A part of the reason is evident in this poster. Neeson does a lot of sitting.

Taken 2 Liam Neeson

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Taken 2 is probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Not good dumb like Mummy 3 or fun dumb like Lockout. The reason I say Taken 2 is dumb is because the writer and director take a character who kicks butt and have him spend half the film tied to a pipe, put in a trunk or driving around in a taxi. The decisions made by the creators are absolutely mind boggling and worthy of exploration.

I am going to explain a 30 minute scene for you. The director thought it was wise to have Neeson kidnapped and tied to a pipe. So, you take out the main reason to watch the film (face hurting) and instead have to watch Maggie Grace throw grenades and do wind sprints.

Taken 2 Maggie Grace bikini

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The bad guys have Neeson kidnapped and know fully well that he is a ball of tall Irish destruction. So, they tie him up and leave him alone in a room full of jagged edges to cut off his zip ties. Are guards in the room watching his every move? Nope. There is one guard sitting outside the locked room who I’ve named “Hank.” Hank plays with his gun, takes a nap and watches reruns of Wings while somehow completely oblivious to the large Irish man making tons of noise. Neeson Skypes, bangs on pipes, starts a fire, releases his wife from chains and plays Stairway to Heaven on Rock Band. Hank is never the wiser and he continues to look at his gun and wish he brought a magazine.

On the 30 minute trip to the imprisonment site Neeson counts every second between turns and says sage things like “birds” and “praying.” Somehow he remembers all of these and in order for Maggie Grace to find his location. He sneaks a Skype phone from his shoe and calls his daughter (Hank is sleeping) so she can rescue him. I think the director wanted another iconic phone scene that was similar to the first film. However, he doesn’t threaten any evil bad guys. He has Maggie Grace grab grenades from his suitcase and tells her to throw them so he can count the seconds between blasts. One magical moment features Grace throwing a grenade into an empty parking garage roof. The roof is clear except for one car. She manages to throw the grenade under the lone car and undoubtedly raised the insurance prices for one poor soul. Then, she throws a grenade and it blows up a water tower which soaks the poor inhabitants and ruins several delicious looking lunches. Finally, grace drops a gun down a chimney and Neeson shoots Hank in the face.

So, it took 40 minutes for action to occur then when it does they stuff Liam in a car, trunk and prison cell. Why is this bad? Because it doesn’t allow Liam to do this.

Taken 2 Liam Neeson snapping neck

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There is zero neck snapping. You are stuck with PG-13 antics. The weirdest thing that happens next is that the following chase puts Neeson in the passenger seat and Grace in the driver side. Neeson does his best Burn Notice impression and tells Grace exactly what to do while the bad guys chase them. The problem with the driving scene is that the camera is so close and editing so manic it looks like the chase was filmed on a 100 meter city street. There is zero sense of place and it makes the golf cart scenes in Jackass seem exciting in comparison.

The best/worst part of this film is the final fight is between the hulking Neeson and a five foot nothing man wearing a track suit. I’m not saying short guys do not make good opponents because the small guy from The Raid would beat me up very quickly. However, this guy choreographs his jabs and needs editing to make him seem like a worthy adversary. My guess is the man is either the stunt coordinator or the director’s brother because he in no way should be the final boss who almost wins. Neeson looked 100% confused during this fight and must have decided Wrath of the Titans (dumbest/loudest movie of 2012)wasn’t so bad anymore. Check out his face.

Taken 2 Liam Neeson final fight

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Taken 2 dropped the ball and still managed to be successful. However, I have a feeling it will hurt the action genre in the years to come. It proves that mediocrity makes money and talks of a third Taken film have been reported. I’m hoping Neeson will stay away from the property and embrace being the new Harrison Ford by starring in action vehicles and character studies similar to The Grey.

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