Taken 2 Olivier Megaton

Taken 2 Olivier Megaton
Within moments of the opening, the premise of this uninspired sequel retread of surprise id-impulse action hit Taken is crystal clear. Murad (Rade Serbedzija) plots vengeance over the coffin of his dead son on pissed-off, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) for killing him, amongst a shitload of others.

Jump ahead in time and Bryan, conveniently reunited with ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), is calling up daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) as she relaxes by a resort pool in Istanbul to say, "Your mother and I have been taken." Insert audience laughter here.

Why anyone would mess with Mills after the pummelling that France took last time he was pissed off isn't clearly defined. In fact, anything pertaining to logic is dumped in favour of forced high school improvisation rationale in plot development and motivation.

Where the first film set out to irreverently dole out male fantasy fulfillment in an effort to appeal to the very audience it was criticising (Republicans), Olivier Megaton's (taking over direction duty from Pierre Morel) sequel didactic has something to do with the fight on terror causing more terrorists. The locale of Istanbul is (apparently) historically key.

The original film featured solid action and a cynical, tongue-in-cheek attitude that served its ridiculous teen prostitution premise well. This sequel is borderline incoherent, featuring an abundance of jumpy edits and rambunctious (read: shaky and obnoxious) cinematography that makes the endless series of car chases borderline redundant. Even while Kim is speeding through the streets, making sharp turns and manoeuvring around an abundance of obstacles, it's hard not to wish it was all filtered through the mature and steady eye of the superior Morel.

But it's not all Megaton's fault. Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen's perfunctory script features an abundance of banal dialogue and predictable action. It's as though it was rushed, a blasé bid to satisfy studio requirements, even going so far as to make a major trajectory gag involve Kim's impending driver's test. (Get it? She's speeding around Istanbul for most of the movie without a license!).

Camp is one thing, but crap is another. Unfortunately, this inoffensive piece of throwaway action falls firmly into the latter category. (Fox)