Clever titles are snazzy. So I saw Taken 2 on Sunday night with a theater full of other people and when it was over I was left with a sense of vague disappointment. The movie is a nice slick, well shot, action movie that is enjoyable. It took me awhile to figure out what bothered me so much about it and then it hit me. The movie lacks the sort of facinating morality that the first one had.
I found Taken to be engrossing. I still do. I've seen it a couple of times now and it draws me in just like a well written Punisher comic or Constantine. Right from the get go Neisson says, "Look I am not your average dad. Just let her go. Grab someone else. Go on your way or else." That right there was this awful chilling scene for me. This is a guy who didn't care about the larger problems of the world. He didn't care that he was about to subject some other father to the same fate his daughter is about to suffer. He didn't care that the other father wouldn't have the skills or resources to get his daughter back. The only thing he cared about was his daughter. Right now. Throughout the movie he maintains the same focus. He doesn't mount a crusade to get these people wiped off of the face of the earth. He doesn't do anything to dismantle their organization. He makes no real move to beat the bad guys. He just kills everyone in his way until he gets his daughter back safe in his arms.
This isn't the first time an action movie uses this sort of plot. Loved ones get Kidnapped all the time. See Mission Impossible 3, True Lies, and Die Hard. However, the main character usually manages to take out the entire organization in the process of getting his loved one back. In Taken that doesn't happen. So we have to watch Taken 2.
The problem with Taken 2 is that it doesn't really play with the morality idea enough. It starts to. The movie opens up with a mass funeral for all the people he killed in the last movie. You see crying mothers, grand mothers, children, et cetera it is a highly effective scene. It is the way the movie opens and it establishes a firm desire for why the main villian decides to embark on what is literally the worst idea ever, "Let's kidnap the guy who just killed all these people". Yeah I dunno I'd leave that one man alone. In fact I would just grab some random white guy, cut out his tounge, present him as the mass killer, kill him go get tea. I mean seriously why? But hey grieving father. In many ways we get this interesting role reversal. We have a father trying to avenge his son, instead of a father trying to rescue his daughter. Taken 2 starts with this premise but it doesn't really do anything interesting with it which is sad.
I mean the movie had plenty of oppertunity to do so. Like when both Niesson and his ex-wife are kidnapped together and there were things they could of done. Like tell his ex-wife about all the people he's killed and tortured. There could be a few moments where the main villain could of called Niesson out on the fact that he has done literally nothing to dissmantle the slave trading organization. I mean after he got his daughter back safely he could of worked with people to try and take them out and he didn't. It didn't need much but a couple of nudges to show that some of Niesson's actions weren't exactly the most heroic would of gone a long way towards making this movie something more than your average action movie. It wouldn't of been hard but they stuck to a formula and as a result we get something not quite bad, but not quite good either.