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Taken 2 (Blu-ray Review)

24 Jan, 2013 By: John Latchem

Box Office $139.68 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality. Unrated version also included.
Stars Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade
Sherbedgia, Luke Grimes, Leland Orser, Jon Gries.

If the “Taken” movies have any sort of enduring legacy, it won’t be for the sophistication of their storytelling.

The 2008 original redefined Liam Neeson as some sort of action hero, hunting down the men who kidnapped his daughter and tried to sell her into slavery. The sequel picks up soon after, with the family of the men he killed seeking revenge.

Neeson is back as Bryan Mills, the ex-CIA operative now working private security for the rich and famous. He invites his family (Famke Janssen as his ex-wife and Maggie Grace as his daughter, Kim) to join him for a vacation in Istanbul after he finishes a job, thus giving the Albanian gangster a-holes gunning for him a chance to strike.

If you haven’t seen Taken 2 yet, just go to the unrated version and don’t bother with the theatrical cut. The extended cut runs seven minutes longer, adding a few more character scenes, but it also gives the film a harder edge with more violence in the fight scenes.

Taken 2 mostly rehashes the gimmick of the first film, but puts a clever spin on it when Bryan gets captured and enlists Kim to help him escape, utilizing some MacGyver-level resourcefulness along the way.

Sure, the plot lurches through some major lapses in logic, the hyperkinetic camera work is aggressive and over the top, and the bad guys exist as little more than targets for Bryan to run down. But Neeson is such a badass when he goes to work, it’s a thrill to watch him in action whenever he’s on screen, and everything is resolved in a brisk 90 minutes.

The Blu-ray includes a number of good extras that enhance the experience of watching the film. One of the funner ones is “Sam’s Tools of the Trade,” a three-and-a-half-minute video guide to all the items in Bryan’s weapons case. Playing up the verisimilitude theme is the “Black Ops Field Manual” mode, an on-screen guide that plays with the unrated cut, offering a running body count, information about covert operations, character bios and map overlays, all of which provide interesting background information that relates to the on-screen action.

There’s not much here in the way of behind-the-scenes info aside from a five-minute interview with Neeson from the FX Movie Channel.

The disc also includes seven minutes of mostly superfluous deleted scenes, as well as an alternate ending. Of course, by “ending” they mean the last third of the film, as the sequence runs 25 minutes. It’s mostly the same as the final version, except for one major plot device involving Janssen’s character that affects Bryan’s motivations going into the final act. This is an interesting example of the filmmaking process but also serves to demonstrate how much better the final film, such as it is, was made by a few minor adjustments to the story.

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