Movie review: ‘Taken 2’ lacks surprise factor

By Shannon Snell

The drama isn’t over yet for the Mills family.

In “Taken 2,” retired CIA operative Bryan Mills is in Istanbul, Turkey, with his ex-wife and daughter, where he and his ex-wife are taken hostage. Their captor is seeking revenge for the death of his son, who Bryan killed in the original “Taken” for kidnapping his daughter.

Bryan (Liam Neeson) is a concerned and overprotective father who also happens to be pretty adept at giving villains a beating. His daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), takes an active role in the rescue of her parents. She teams up with her father over the phone to help discover her parents’ location.

The relationship between father Bryan and daughter Kim is one of the highlights of “Taken 2.” Their bond is both believable and endearing. A few moments of tension, including an argument over Kim’s new boyfriend, makes their relationship realistic.

Kim’s role as the unlikely heroine of the movie is also refreshing. Like her father did for her in the previous movie, Kim will also go to great lengths to save her parents. However, she is not a fearless savior, as some might expect. Her fear, both for her own life and for the life of her parents, adds dimension to her character.

The plot, however, is often predictable and therefore lacks the surprise factor that is so important to the success of action films. Viewers can probably see the ending coming from a mile away. And many of the crucial plot points are mundane and expected.

With the exception of a few heartwarming father-daughter moments, the film lacks emotion. Viewers may not feel close or connected to any of the characters, as few unique qualities are given to their personalities. All members of the Mills family also remain flat and unchanging from the beginning of the film to the end.

Additionally, viewers may find it beneficial to watch the original “Taken” prior to viewing “Taken 2.” Some of the plot of the new film may be a little hard to follow without the back-story that the first movie provides. This is especially true of the beginning, which skips around a lot and can disorient or confuse the viewer. “Taken” may have allowed viewers to become more connected with the characters prior to the sequel.

But, the film made tactful use of its special effects. While some action films tend to overuse explosions or car wrecks, “Taken 2” used such effects sparingly, which was refreshing. Some viewers may see this as a negative, though, as the effects do not compensate for an insufficient plotline.

While “Taken 2” was not a gripping thrill ride, it may make for an easy and entertaining Friday night at the movies.

Grade: C-

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