This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 14th October 2012
Liam Neeson is back – actually, he’s called Bryan but that’s not a proper movie hero name so let’s stick to calling him Liam – and this time his whole family is in peril on a trip to Istanbul. You get the sense that Liam would be quite a cool dad if you ever got into a scrape, but otherwise he’s just annoyingly overprotective. Luckily, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) has learned a lot since her Parisian ordeal, and the nice twist in this tale is that she’s as instrumental in saving everyone as her dad is.
This time the Albanians are after Liam, seeking to avenge the death of the bad guys from the first Taken. Rade Serbedzija (from New Zealand’s Broken English back in 1996, and many Hollywood pictures since) is the one-dimensional vengeful father of Taken’s principal sleazy kidnapper. There are lots of nameless, characterless, line-less henchmen. But never mind them, or the innocent Turks whose peaceful marketplace business is rudely interrupted by Liam and Kim driving madly through their narrow streets – this story is all about a 60-year-old action hero finding a way to save and be reunited with his daughter and conveniently single ex-wife (Famke Janssen).
Shot like a Tony Scott film, soundtracked like a Bourne movie, the character traits are overly signposted (Liam is mildly obsessive, he tells us early on) but parts of the film really work. Liam talks Kim through a masterclass in establishing the kidnappers’ location, and putting his daughter at the wheel in the biggest chase scene is a nice touch. There is the now obligatory rooftop chase scene, and the locations are beautiful, though the suspenseful moments around hallways and doorways get a bit tired.
Liam sure can pack a punch, however, whether with guns, chains or hand-to-hand combat. One thing’s for certain – he should start preparing his CV for The Expendables 3.