It’s hard to believe there are still some Albanians left to kill after the first “Taken,” but here we are with “Taken 2: Taken Harder,” a thoroughly ridiculous sequel that finds Liam Neeson again piling up bodies of Albanians because, well, that’s what he does best.
“Taken” was a surprise hit back in 2008, and it established Neeson as a late-in-life action hero. Here he’s back as expert bodyguard Bryan Mills, trying to pick up the pieces of his broken marriage (Famke Janssen plays his ex-wife) and his strained relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who conveniently shows no emotional scars from the torture she endured in the first movie.
Mills invites them to join him in Istanbul, because hey, the last time they were overseas things worked out pretty well. The relatives of the thugs he iced then are seeking revenge, and he and his wife end up being kidnapped, leaving their daughter to track them down. Next time these guys should really consider a staycation.
Plausibility is immediately thrown out the window, and screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen continually dive out after it. This is a movie where early on, Kim is shown trying to get her driver’s license (note: Grace is 29, the movie treats her like she’s 16), and later she’s leading a high speed chase through the streets of Istanbul. After that, the closing scene of her successfully parallel parking is a bit anticlimactic.
Director Olivier Megaton (“Colombiana”) is as eager to get to the action as the audience, but the hand-to-hand combat scenes are so erratically cut that it’s difficult to make heads or tails of what’s happening in them. The one thing that comes across is Neeson’s character really likes fighting Albanians. Even when it doesn’t directly involve rescuing his loved ones, he just enjoys the sport of it.
But even that grows tiresome, for both him and the audience. In a showdown with the head baddie, he breaks character and pleas for peace. Why? “Because I’m tired of it all,” he says.
We know how he feels.
Rated PG-13: For intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
Running time: 93 minutes