HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10467[/img]Title: Taken 2
Starring: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace
Directed by: Robert Kamen, Luc Besson
Written by: John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 15th, 2013
HTS Overall Score:84
“Taken” was a box office sensation that came out of left field and surprised everyone A fun, unique revenge story that showcased just how good on an action star the hulking 6’2” ex-boxer Liam Neeson could be, it was both visceral and intoxicating as an action film junkie. However, the minute that I heard a sequel was in the works I rolled my eyes and groaned, for no matter how good “Taken” was, the movie was very self-contained and had zero need of a sequel. Bracing myself for the inevitable, I prepared for the worst. I went into “Taken 2” expecting cheese and more of the same action that its predecessor had, but without any of the soul and grit that the first one contained. To a certain extend I was right. There was a bit of the “been there, done that” aspect to the film, but surprisingly as an action film alone, “Taken 2” holds up really well.
A year or so after the horrific events of the first movie, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) are trying to gain some semblance of normalcy back in the states. Kim’s mother Lenore (Famke) is on the outs with her new husband and is in the middle of nasty divorce proceedings. After the husband leaves Kim and Lenore in the lurch, Bryan offers them a chance to come to Istanbul with him for a vacation after he finishes a security gig there. As fate would have it, the sequences of the first film are going to revisit him once again. Instead of his daughter being kidnapped, Bryan and Lenore are kidnapped, while Kim narrowly escapes with her life. It seems that the relatives of the sex traffickers that Bryan slaughtered in the first film have come to wreak vengeance on the Mills family. Lead by the father of the clan (Rade Serbedzija) they are set to torture Lenore to death in front of Bryan and do the same to Kim once they get ahold of her. Using that same nasty set of skills that makes him so deadly, Bryan escapes with the help of his daughter Kim, only to come back for his ex-wife and find out that the vengeance obsessed father has gotten to her first. As he tells Kim, it’s time to do “what I do best” and hunt them down and take them out one, by one, making sure that they never will be able to bother them again.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10469[/img]“Taken 2” is predictable at times, and lacks the dark brooding drama that made the first film so fantastic, but as an action film it delivers quite well. Full of hand to hand combat and Liam Neeson’s hulking intimidation factor the film is a film that didn’t need to be made, but doesn’t hurt the franchise by being made either. I had some issues with the shaky cam that was being employed, but being mostly frenetic, close up battles, it actually kind of lended its own unique charm to the combat scenes. The car chases are weak at best, shot way to frenetically, like the hand to hand combat scenes, to truly allow the viewer to grasp what’s going on as Kim and Bryan careened across the Istanbul landscape.
The real saving grace for this film is Liam Neeson. His portrayal as the grim, determined father and husband, who will stop at nothing to protect the ones he loves, helps raise this from a mediocre film to a good one. His charisma and craggy features make him a force to be reckoned with for anyone who would dare to get in his way. Rade Serbedzija is always a formidable villain, with his thick eastern accent and those piercing eyes of his. While not a perfect movie by any means, it was definitely a lot of fun to see Bryan Mills tear through a myriad of villains without breaking a sweat, all the while showing a mixture of awkward love for a daughter he’s been absent from and the harsh realities of a life of being a spy that he’s known forever.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality (Unrated extended cut)
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10470[/img]“Taken 2” sports a very sharp and detailed image, clean and natural looking for the most part. It DOES sport the ever popular orange and teal tinting to the colors, so skin tones can look a bit off in bright or night scenes, but the colors are rich and vibrant as well. Oranges, browns and dusky grey’s saturate the Istanbul setting with the occasional red and blue popping out of the background. There’s a nice, thin, and very natural layer of grain over the entire image, but never obscures the detail. Facial detail is through the roof. You can see every line, every wrinkle, and every crease of Liam Neeson’s craggy face. Individual hairs on an actor’s face are impeccably displayed for the viewer to see. Long shots are also ripe with detail, whether it be a train station backdrop, or the wide green of a gold course, nothing is obscured from eyes. Shadows are done extremely well; I noticed just a small hint of black crushing in some of the underground scenes, but nothing too off the charts. Other than that, the fine detail in dark scenes was excellent. No artifacts plagued this disc as far as I could see. The image was free from haloing and edge enhancement and with such a clear picture it was obvious that DNR wasn’t present either. An excellent picture that only real flaw was the shaky cam work that made it difficult to focus on at times.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=10471[/img]Not to be outdone, the audio is every bit as pristine as the video is. The first thing that I noticed was how balanced the track was. No overbearing LFE bass to create a falsely aggressive track. Instead the movie relies on subtlety and restraint. LFE is present in spades when necessary, when a grenade went off I could feel it in my chest, and the gunshots, oh the gunshots. To say they carried a wallop would be an understatement. If the bullet missed the target I’m sure that the sonic shockwave these guns carried would kill them. Vocals are locked to the center channel with a very moderate dynamic range applied to the track. Vocals are crisp and clean; no raising or lowering of the center channel during action scenes etc. Surrounds are used with excellent results. The sounds of Istanbul flow around you, from in front, to behind, seamlessly drawing the viewer into the eastern city. Impressive without being thunderous and loud at all times, I was impressed how seamlessly the film would switch from a quiet scene with Bryan stalking his wife’s kidnappers to a wild swell of gunfire and back again in the blink of an eye. A very well done track that suits the feel of the movie very well indeed.
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• Black Ops field manual
• Sam's "tools of the trade"
• FX Movie Channel presents: In Character with Liam Neeson
While I can see how some people may have been disappointed with this film due to the excellent nature of its predecessor, but for one going in with zero expectations it’s quite a fun action film. Performing decently at the box office and leaving a few more “relatives” alive at the same time we are all but assured of seeing “Taken 3” within the next few years. “Taken 2” is the definition of a popcorn film, meant to entertain while our hulking hero cuts through bad guys like soft butter while barely taking a scratch of his own, a real life “superhero” so to speak. Fun and action packed from beginning to end “Taken 2” is a great flick to grab a bowl of popcorn with, turn out the lights and crank up your sound system.
Buy Taken 2 on Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It