Liam Neeson sets out to rescue his daughter in "Taken 2." | AP
Updated: November 10, 2012 6:14AM
In the first three-fourths of 2012, I’m not sure any film provoked more laughter than I heard during the screening of “Taken 2” last week.
To be sure, some of the laughter was of the “This is so great!” kind you often hear at action movies. But most of the time we were laughing at the cartoonishly implausible plot turns in “Taken 2,” which of course is a sequel to a 2008 movie titled, um, “Taken.”
The first “Taken” wasn’t a particularly good film, but it benefited from a terrific marketing campaign that showcased Neeson’s Bryan on the phone with his daughter’s kidnapper:
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have any money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
In other words: I’m Batman.
With “Taken,” Neeson transitioned from esteemed, serious actor to esteemed, serious actor who can punch out wolves (“The Grey”) and take out professional killers while solving a convoluted conspiracy (“Unknown”). In the “Taken,” he personified the ultimate divorced father rescue fantasy, literally saving his daughter from a band of sneering gangster/slave traders while impressing the ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) to boot.
In “Taken 2,” Albanian crime patriarch Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija) wants revenge for Bryan killing his son — though to be fair, Bryan had a pretty good reason to off the kid, seeing as how he had kidnapped Bryan’s daughter and was in the process of selling her to the highest bidder. Krasniqi goes to great lengths to determine Bryan’s whereabouts, even though Bryan’s hardly hiding out as he spends his days barbecuing with his ex-CIA buddies and giving driving lessons to daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, who is 29 but still playing a teenager).
After Lenore and Kim join Bryan in Istanbul, it’s a matter of hours before Bryan and Lenore are kidnapped, and Kim is hiding out in a closet, hoping to be the beneficiary of the old henchman-gets-called-away-just-before-he-sees-the-target routine. Later, the villain cuts up Lenore and leaves her to die while Bryan watches — but all the bad guys leave the room. Haven’t these people seen a James Bond movie? You never leave the hero tied up and alone. Chances of escape are 100 percent.
The action/comedy in “Taken 2” kicks into overdrive with Bryan on his secret miniature phone, telling Kim he just happens to have some explosive devices in his suitcase (how was he going to need grenades while doing personal bodyguard work?) and instructing her in the art of grenade-tossing, map-reading and of course stunt driving. I kept waiting for Kim to say to her dad, “You know, you’re really good at the rescuing thing, but you suck at the protection thing! This is twice in four years!”
Taken 2: You’ve Been Had
Box office analysts were stunned by the $50 million box office performance of “Taken 2,” some $12 million better than projections.
You know that means. “Taken 3”!
The possibilities are endless:
† Bryan’s ex-wife, daughter, the daughter’s boyfriend, his cousins, his CIA buddies, his nieces and nephews and his personal trainer are all kidnapped by relatives of Murad Krasniqi.
† Bryan attends his high school reunion — and everyone is kidnapped.
† Everyone Bryan’s ever met is kidnapped.
† All 3,476 of Bryan’s Twitter followers are kidnapped. “I want ALL of you to listen to me. You’re been taken. Fortunately, I have a very particular set of skills…”
In Your Eyes
It was 1980s movie heaven for attendees of the Peter Gabriel concert at the Hollywood Bowl last Saturday night when Gabriel’s performance of “In Your Eyes” was kicked off by a surprise cameo by John Cusack, complete with boom box.
“Won’t forget that…ever,” tweeted Cameron Crowe, who was in the audience and who directed “Say Anything,” which features that classic moment where Cusack holds up the boom box outside Ione Skye’s bedroom window, filling her heart with sounds of “In Your Eyes.”
That’s probably the perfect concert/actor combo, but once again, the possibilities are nearly endless:
*Judd Nelson walks across stage and does a fist-thrust as Simple Minds play “Don’t You (Forget About Me).”
*Tom Cruise slides across the stage in his underwear when Bob Seger kicks into “Old Time Rock and Roll.”
*Phoebe Cates emerges from a swimming pool as the Cars play “Moving In Stereo.” (OK, the logistics of that one are a little tricky.)
*Sylvester Stallone comes out and spars with Mr. T while Survivor plays “Eye of the Tiger.”
Let the pairings begin.