Making the Grades
Whoever thinks about the families of thugs that are left to mourn after the lawbreakers are mowed down by a movie protagonist? Especially those nameless, glowering, one-dimensional thugs who only show up on screen long enough to get shot or otherwise disposed of.
Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija) does. He pledges to revenge the death of his son by Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), the retired CIA agent (and Taken protagonist) who killed an entire group of thugs after they kidnapped his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Never mind that Murad’s offspring forced Kim and other young female foreigners into the illegal sex trade. Murad wants vengeance.
If ever a movie script could be condensed down to the phrase “live by the sword, die by the sword,” this is it.
Soon after Kim and Bryan’s former wife Lenore (Famke Hanssen) join him for a few days of vacation in Istanbul, Murad and his own set of thugs close in, capturing the two adults. Kim manages to escape and, fortunately for her, Murad and this men lack the technological wherewithal to track her down using her cell phone. That gives her a chance to call her dad and then proceed to toss grenades around the city in an effort to locate the position of her missing parents. (It’s a complicated process that resembles something like a bad game of Battleship but in the middle of a highly populated residential area.)
Unlike Taken that created at least some moments of edge-of-your-seat tension as the determined dad tracked down his missing daughter, this script feels like little more than an excuse for a bloodbath. Seemingly unstoppable, Bryan frees himself from his captors and then proceeds to wipe out an endlessly multiplying group of bad guys led by Murad. There is no question he’ll succeed, so the only unknown is how many different ways he can kill off these criminals. Guns, explosions, metal rods, chokeholds and his own fists are all employed.
However in this era of aging action heroes ( Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Expendables 2, Red ), quick film edits are needed to create the illusion of rough and tumble fistfights. And sometimes those rapid cuts become as distracting as the story’s inconsistencies.
After having her neck slashed and then being hung head down to bleed out like a dead deer, Lenore manages to have little more than a few drops of smeared blood on her cheek when she is freed. And no one overreacts when two interlopers crash through the gates of the US Embassy in Turkey and come to a sliding stop at the front steps of the office.
While this bullet-riddled story, packed with plenty of profanities, appears to justify a father’s right to take the law in his own hands, all this action starts to feel a little too much like a tiresome battle of tit-for-tat.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Taken 2.
The action in this film takes a while to get started. Does this slow pacing at the beginning of the story make it more difficult to engage with the plot? Can a slow start to a story sometimes be used as a way to create tension?
How does Bryan’s justification for killing people to rescue his daughter compare to Murad’s desire for revenge? Why does it seem more acceptable in the hero than the villain?
How do filmmakers using editing and choreography to create fight scenes?