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'Taken 2' full of mediocre directing, acting and bad writing

Oct. 12, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

The director is named "Megaton"? Are you kiddin' me? If I made this poor excuse for a movie, I would use a pseudonym, too.

Writer/director Luc Besson ("Leon: The Professional," "La Femme Nikita," "The Transporter" movies) who thought up the original "Taken," which became the 2008 sleeper hit, again brings us retired CIA spook Bryan Mills, played well by Liam Neeson ("Nell," "Next of Kin," "The Grey").

The hot cougar Famke Janssen ("Rounders," "X-Men" movies, "Nip/Tuck") also comes back as his ex-wife Lenore, a frail lady who has hardened up since the original movie (having your daughter kidnapped into sex slavery will tend to do that to you). In this movie she, herself, becomes a kidnap victim.

Maggie Grace ("Malice in Wonderland," "Lost," "Lockout") has much more of a starring role this time, as little Kim, the cute, sexy daughter-without-a-clue, managing to be tough enough to out run the bad guys across rooftop Istanbul, yet tender enough to fret about her driving test.

A good, standout (albeit stereotypical) performance is turned in on the second tier by Rade Serbedzija {"Snatch," "24," "In the Land of Blood and Honey") as Crime Boss Murad Krasniqi, who swears revenge against the man who killed his son (and half of his capo regime) in the first movie.

It is not Serbedzia's fault that his resemblance to a popular television advertisement campaign makes me imagine lines like, "I don't always chase American spies, but when I do, I drink Dos...".

The acting here is as good as the mediocre directing and poor script lets it be.

The storyline was apparently thrown together after the first film became such a big hit. There are gaps in it that a tourist could drive a taxicab through.

Unbelievable gaffs occur throughout the movie, like Mills and daughter driving their cab through the front gate of the American Embassy. In real life, the Marine Security Guard post, who amazingly fails to stop them with mucho automatic weapons fire, would have totally destroyed the vehicle, instead of moviefying the shootout by only aiming above the dashboard level or into the apparent Kevlar bodywork.

Also, every rookie terrorist wannabe knows that there is no longer any direct, non-mousetrap maze design entrances to government facilities that allow a vehicle (possibly laden with explosives) to end up in the Embassy courtyard.

Another thing that was glaringly stupid, was, after her BFF is killed and she is kidnapped and almost sold into white slavery, until Daddy kills half of Europe, cute little 17-year-old Kim is offered a vacation in (you guessed it) Europe, and she says, "Why, yes, I've heard it's a wonderful place to visit."

Why not visit Disneyland or Yellowstone instead? I seriously doubt that you would get a phone call from Daddy there, "Kim, listen carefully, Mickey Mouse is coming for you, you will be TAKEN..."

The biggest suspension from reality is the same that appeared in the first installment, the fact that a 60-plus-year-old man can physically kick butt against entire groups of tough mobsters half his age.

Physically NOT possible, although the "Expendables" franchise is not thoroughly convinced.

In one scene where they capture Mills, but keep him alive to watch his family suffer, he escapes and kills three or four bad guys barehanded before EVEN LEAVING THE HOUSE!

Here's a tip for the bad guys in "Taken 3" (Beeson swears there will not be one). After you capture him, blow away both of his knee caps! He can still watch his family die, but probably won't be able to take out half of your posse.

Apparently the movie audience can overlook terrible writing, if the body count is high enough.

With all of its flaws, "Taken 2" is another big hit with those who pay to see it. As for us who are paid to see it... not so much.

Billy Summers is a freelance photographer who also reviews films for the Putnam Herald. He can be reached at summers855@yahoo.com.