By Mikhail Chernyavsky

Getting straight to the action and skipping over the story, “Taken 2” is the perfect example of how a surprisingly successful first film can get a lazy sequel.

Much like the first “Mission Impossible” and its sequels, the focus shifts from intelligence that keeps you in suspense to just the action that kept you entertained.

The distant father taking the law into his own hands isn’t a new premise, but it was a combination of intelligence and action that made the first film so good, not to mention Liam Neeson’s instantly iconic “I will find you” cell phone speech. (Internet memes have become a justifiable measurement for the iconic status of a pop culture reference in this generation.)

So, expectations were high for the sequel of an unexpected blockbuster. Yet, even after four years, the lack of story gave the film a rushed feel.

Watching “Taken 2” is like listening to a greatest hits album. You get all the popular songs that made the band famous, but unlike listening to an entire album, you don’t really experience what made the band great.

The film quickly opens at the funeral of the dead kidnappers and their mourning family members. They are promised revenge from Murad (Rade Serbedzija), a boss whose son was among the dead.

Then we fast forward a year after retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson) used his particular set of skills to find his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).

Kim and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) join Bryan for a vacation in Istanbul after he finishes a security job.

The film’s action sequences are just as entertaining as its admired predecessor. However, it’s the unintentional comedic moments that will make you roll your eyes and wonder where all the intelligence of the first film had gone.

You can’t help but laugh at moments like Bryan making a phone call to Kim during a Mexican stand off with kidnappers to explain that he and Lenore will be taken. Then, you have grenades thrown on rooftops to be used as sound beacons. However, there doesn’t seem to be any visible response to the explosions from locals.

What could have been a continuation of an enjoyable film became nothing more than another over-the-top sequel.

Like that greatest hits album, “Taken 2” lazily pulls together the highlights of the first film and does nothing more than give it a revamped packaging and calls it new.


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