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Liam Neeson's latest thriller is dumb, silly, and totally worth watching....
Fox / 98 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: January 15, 2013
Kidnapped... again and again and again. The conceit of a sequel to the pulpy genre thriller Taken is explicitly silly, but in the hands of Liam Neeson, somehow the thing works. It's inelegant, and the movie as a narrative whole is perhaps not all that great, but the movie star oomph the guy brings to the party here is enough to keep the entire thing not only above water, but almost thrillingly alive.
It's Neeson's very essence as a performer that keeps otherwise blah material like this so vital. Luc Besson co-wrote this script and produced the thing, so on paper it seems like it might be able to exist on its own, but there's no question that this is the Liam Neeson show. Like he was in The Grey before it, Neeson in Taken 2 is a force to be reckoned with, a star we're able to not only root for but stand behind through thick and thin.
The only major plot point worth mentioning in this sequel is that the dudes Bryan Mills (Neeson) killed in the first flick inspire the dad of the now-deceased kidnapper to avenge his son's death. While on a Turkish vacation, Bryan's daughter Lenore gets 'taken', and Mills uses all the tools at his disposal to both get his kin back and bring the bad guys to justice.
Taken 2 is not a significant film, nor is it a singularly well-made one. But Fox knows a franchise when they see it, and this one just might continue to deliver. The entire affair sinks or sails on Neeson's presence, and in that regard, it totally succeeds, and if you throw in some fancy-looking production design and on-location shooting, everything works just as it should. Taken 2 isn't the kind of movie you'll return to again and again as a genre classic, but it nevertheless is a mighty fine way to waste ninety minutes in front of the boob tube.