If the opening credits don’t give you a seizure, chances are that the painfully long car chase – naturally, all films involving CIA agents and Eastern European terrorists must culminate in one – will. But before we hurtle into a blur of rotting teeth, widened eyes, screeching tyres and random crashes, we must endure an hour of absolute ineptitude from the director, screenplay-writer, and therefore the characters.
Once the epilepsy-inducing opening montage is done with, the film plunges us into a beautiful Albanian landscape. The deliriously inviting aerial shots remind us of how being pulled into a film felt, before 3D glasses climbed up our noses. For those of us who haven’t watched 'Taken', the first scene sums it up in about thirty seconds – we figure out Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) notched up a considerable body count, and those bodies are related to formidable terrorists.
Now, even if I could look past the fact that the director of this film named himself after an atom bomb (and erroneously at that), I can’t get over the previous avatars of the two female stars. Famke Janssen will always be a mutant scientist to anyone who’s watched X-Men, while Maggie Grace will always be a vampire, like the rest of the Twilight cast (seriously, I get the creeps when Robert Pattinson sips wine).
Of course, you don’t expect much logic from a film where a 29-year-old is trying to pass for a teen, and where ex-CIA agents save each other from terrorists and the State Department while chewing gum and playing golf. Yep, it’s all so routine. Why not just throw in someone reading the newspaper, and saying, “Ah, bummer, Jamie got blown to bits. Pass me the maple syrup, could you, honey”, huh? Even so, it’s a little much to expect an audience to sit through a movie that would've been over in five minutes if gangsters could guard their prisoners instead of watching football, terrorists could pat down their victims, and mob-leaders could put their mobiles in silent mode.
Well, since this is a French production and all, maybe we can suspend our disbelief for long enough to allow that a dude as clever as Mills would want his ex-wife and daughter (who in the first edition was rescued from a prostitution racket) to fly down to Istanbul, conveniently close to the home ground of the men who want avenge their beradars’ deaths. We can also allow that his ex-wife and daughter will want to hang out with Creepy Daddy who installs GPS on their phones and keeps track of the men in their lives. But I draw the line at a man trusting a girl who’s failed her driving test twice to track him down in an alien city, with a map, shoelace, marker and grenades for guidance.
When the film runs out of lines, the gaps are filled in by the azan, torture porn, validation of the US Embassy’s omnipotence (not withstanding the multiple attacks on those in this part of the world), heavy breathing, shootouts, and a wimpy boyfriend who seems too insignificant to merit a name.
The Verdict One’s heart goes out to a very dishy Liam Neeson who, despite his best efforts, looks like he’d rather fight wolves than Turks.