wed 23/10/2019

Taken 2 | reviews, news & interviews

Taken 2

Taken 2

The perfect sequel revisits thrilling Liam Neeson vehicle with a fresh twist

Thrillingly bullheaded: Liam Neeson in 'Taken 2'

Like a Dirty Daddy Harry, Taken saw bad people get rough justice: if you kidnap a covert operator’s daughter, you'll be mercilessly tracked down and dispatched with giddy, impossible violence. In Taken 2, the whole family gets 'taken', making this sequel a study in scary togetherness. Conceived as a schlocky action vehicle for durable star Liam Neeson, Taken was a surprise hit. Doing what every good sequel should, Taken 2 puts the audience back into the exciting world of the first film where they can enjoy those lovable characters as well as a new twist on the story. It also prods them to watch the first film again when they get home.

Director Oliver Megaton takes over from previous director Pierre Morel to make Taken 2 work as both a sequel and standalone story. Certainly, you get the thrusting hero, Bryan Mills (Neeson) who is just as thrillingly bullheaded about his daughter Kim as he was before. Now there are two new threats: she must pass her driving test and she has a boyfriend -  youthful cove lucky to be alive when the couple are caught kissing. Then there's that other threat: Albanians.

Neeson’s Mills emerges as a blinding beacon of credibility

The film opens over a series of open graves in Albania, with a father (beautifully cast Rade Šerbedžija as squinty, evil Murad) swearing vengeance against Mills’ killing of his even-more-evil slave trading son in Taken. No matter that the treasures of Istanbul are blown up unnecessarily as daughter Kim tries to locate her kidnapped parents with hand grenades. What's vital is that Neeson’s Mills emerges yet again as a blinding beacon of credibility. In the middle of ridiculous circumstances, he is real. That's the secret of the whole possible Taken franchise: Neeson plays a man whom we want to believe really exists.

For all its violence and outlandishness, Taken 2 has an enormous sense of humour. It's ironic that Kim, an unlicensed car driver, has to cram a Turkish taxi through hairy Istanbul traffic bulging with police cars. (A shame that Americans aren’t taught to drive a manual transmission but a great advertisement for Mercedes.) The soothing tones of Mills to wife Lenore, chained upside down and bleeding to death, seem almost quirky. For the more observant, the film’s wardrobe and makeup telegraph what to think: Famke Janssen’s Lenore (pictured above) is one tough mother, with her over-plucked eyebrows and too-dyed black hair.  In tenser scenes, fresh-faced Kim (Maggie Grace) is so stressed she fleetingly morphs into Peter MacNicol's sweaty Dr Janosz Poha of Ghostbusters II. Luckily, evildoers are easily spotted. They wear simply awful sportswear under leather jackets. They like living in dirty apartments, drinking weird liquor from clear, labelless bottles and watching football on fuzzy black and white TVs. Unlike the heroes, they do not use smartphones. (If you see any of these elements coalesce, run - don’t walk - to your nearest embassy.)

Taken 2 is the perfect sequel to Taken: pacy and action-packed, it measures irony against evil, allowing Neeson to emerge, yet again, triumphant from a cloud of violent funk. Let’s put it this way: it could have been worse.

Watch the trailer to Taken 2

For its violence and outlandish setup, Taken 2 has an enormous sense of humour


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.