While the first Taken isn't a masterpiece, it manages to be an entertaining action flick. The plot is simple and Liam Neeson plays a great badass. With the success of the first one, the unfortunate news of a sequel was inevitable. Filmmaker Olivier Megaton is clearly attempting to deliver a fun popcorn flick, but there are so many problems with Taken 2 that it's more of a bad comedy than an action film. The plot doesn't make sense and the dialogue is so bad, you'll be questioning how this got the green light to begin production. Don't waste your time with this attempt to milk the first feature's success.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired CIA operative who invites his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), to meet up with him in Istanbul after he's done working for a few days. With all of the stress at home, Lenore and Kim decide to accept his offer. After arriving, the families of those who were killed by Mills in the first movie are after him to take their revenge. Mills and his ex-wife are kidnapped, as Kim tries to avoid capture. Bryan must escape and fight in order to save his family.
After everything that happened in Taken, it puzzles me as to why they would leave the country to go to Istanbul at all. While Bryan Mills is still the same calm and collected, yet powerful man, Lenore has a bigger, yet useless role. The only reason she's in this movie is to provide multiple kidnappings to stretch the running time. As for their daughter, Kim, she does more than get abducted in Taken 2. She isn't captured this time around, but her father finds a way to contact her in order to let her know what to do next. While it's a cool idea to have her do more than be helpless, you'll find yourself shaking your head during her action sequences, especially during the big car chase. For somebody who hasn't been able to pass their driving test, it's unbelievable that she's able to drift and drive like a professional. It's difficult to have any sympathy for characters that are so unconvincing. There weren't detailed characterizations in the first Taken, but they never became as infuriating as the ones featured in the sequel.
Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen's screenplay for Taken 2 comes across as a rush job. This is as unimaginative as scripts come. The dialogue is so laughably bad that you just might be fooled into thinking that you're watching a comedy. The villains are some of the most stereotypical bad guys you could imagine. They capture Bryan Mills rather quickly and he's locked away for a good amount of the running time. It's upsetting that the one character that could possibly bring any decent action is locked up in a room for so long. Instead of watching him beat up the antagonists for the majority of the film, expect to watch Kim running around trying to save her parents. It's just an insulting replacement that will leave moviegoers feeling cheated.
I'm not sure why Liam Neeson decided to star in this, but he returns as Bryan Mills. While he was entertaining in the first movie, he isn't given very much of an opportunity to shine in Taken 2, as he isn't in as many action scenes as he should be in. Maggie Grace plays Kim in an unconvincing fashion. When she's supposed to fill the shoes of an action star, she fails to deliver. Famke Janssen is just as unintentionally funny and awkward in the role of Lenore as Maggie Grace is as Kim. Lenore passes out numerous times and Janssen's representation of this is hilarious. While the performances are bad, the material they've been given is even worse.
Taken 2 is filled with generic PG-13 violence. Since Liam Neeson is in a small amount of the action scenes, don't expect to see any of the fun fighting sequences seen in the first film. Instead of having hand-to-hand combat, there's a lot of meaningless shooting that always seems to miss the protagonists. In order to make Taken 2 an enjoyable action flick, director Olivier Megaton must be able to provide audiences with the big explosions and cool stunt-work that fans of the genre are craving, if not with an engaging story with well-developed characters. None of this can be found in this mess. The same can be said about the editing. Every single time anything begins to happen, there are so many quick cuts that it's difficult to even see what's happening. This is the kiss of death for many action flicks. How do filmmakers expect audiences to appreciate a movie's stunt-work if we can't even see it?
Taken 2 is a completely unnecessary sequel that never should have been made. There aren't very many positive things that can be said about this flick. The screenplay is an utter disaster and the acting isn't very much better. Liam Neeson can do a lot better than this, which is why it's confusing why he decided to star in this project. If you have any respect for the action genre, or movies in general, then you should just forget that this even exists. Taken 2 is an unintentionally humorous mess.