Taken 2 (Blu-ray Combo Pack)
Directed by Olivier Megaton
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 92/98 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: January 15, 2013
Review Date: January 15, 2013
At the funerals for his son and other operatives who work for him, Albanian crime boss Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia) vows revenge on the man who wiped out so many friends and relatives in finding his kidnapped daughter and rescuing her, ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). While working a high end security job in Istanbul, Mills and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) are stalked and taken prisoner while the thugs go looking for teenaged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Taking instructions from her father via a compact cell phone, Kim manages to hide from the kidnappers and then elude them, carrying out her father’s exact instructions so he can get free and hopefully save Lenore who’s losing blood and has only thirty minutes to live. Knowing the men won’t let up until they’re all wiped out, Bryan has a horrific few hours ahead of him.
As before, the script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen doesn’t delve much into character development. Kim’s still keeping secrets (a new boy friend played by Luke Grimes) from her overprotective dad, and Lenore continues to be the less assertive parent. The kidnapping doesn’t happen until half an hour into the movie with the build-up to it quite slow and methodically bland while suspense and forward momentum rather stops and starts this time out compared to the last film (which was directed by Pierre Morel). Olivier Megaton has directed a whale of a good chase sequence, and Bryan’s fight scenes are always fascinating exhibitions even though the editing is so fiercely quick that one must either play them in slow motion or rewatch them several times to get the full effect of the expert choreography. (The climactic fight which pits Bryan against a man much shorter but just as skilled as he is by far the film’s best such moment.) As for the rest of the action, the murder methodology this time out doesn’t seem as varied and, dare one say it, entertaining; everything seems more pedestrian and uncreative. Additionally, Kim as Bryan’s ace in the hole seems faintly ludicrous throughout with her suddenly gaining expertise in stealing clothes, reading maps, and tossing grenades rather expertly (for someone who wasn’t even aware that Turkey lies in both Europe and Asia, her being able to look out a window and know which direction is east is very commendable).
Liam Neeson is just as commanding and entertaining as before with his single-minded objective of protecting his family and of setting things right when things go wrong. As she was three years ago, Maggie Grace is still too old to be playing a giddy teenager though she handles her moments of expressing fear and of carrying out her father’s bidding with pluck. Famke Janssen’s role is certainly more central to the action here than it was in the first film, but as she’s injured fairly early, she has little to do but remain the person in need of saving this time. Rade Sherbedgia as the avenging father who doesn’t care that his son was a criminal or that Mills was only protecting his daughter plays his one dimensional role rather matter of factly thus allowing the audience to react gleefully late in the movie as he runs for his life from Mills knowing he’s been careless enough to let such a master operative escape even with dozens of guards surrounding him.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 is faithfully reproduced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. The image is very sharp throughout, and contrast is dialed up a bit while color saturation levels are toned down a tad to intensify the action occurring in a foreign locale. Flesh tones are perhaps a bit pale as a result, but details in hair, facial features, and clothes are good compensations. Black levels are fine. There is a small amount of moiré to be seen and one curious instance of banding late in the film. The film has been divided into 24 chapters in both the theatrical and unrated versions.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix makes considerable impact throughout really revving up its power once the kidnapping and escape work begins. By the time that amazing chase sequence unfolds, the surround soundfield is alive with split effects panning across and through the soundstage. Nathaniel Mechaly’s incessant, driving music ratchets up the tension constantly as it’s pumped through the fronts and rears to great effect. Dialogue has been expertly recorded and appears in the center channel.
Unless otherwise noted, the bonus material is presented in 1080p.
The viewer is offered the choice of the PG-13 rated theatrical cut or the six minutes-longer unrated edition. For the purposes of this review, I viewed the unrated cut.
There are five deleted scenes which can be viewed individually or in one 7-minute grouping.
The alternate ending which takes Lenore out of danger in the film’s final third and makes Bryan’s final assault one of vengeance rather than salvation runs 25 minutes.
Black Ops Field Manual is a feature repeated from the first film. If turned on, it keeps track of the number of people killed and wounded and the amount of miles traveled during the movie. It also allows pop up facts about the characters and various trivia pop-ups to continually appear.
“Sam’s Tools of the Trade” is an interactive look at the intriguing metal suitcase which Bryan takes on his watchdog assignments. The viewer can move the pointer to each individual object for a video description or play all of the factoids in a 3 ½-minute vignette.
“The Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character with Liam Neeson” is a 5-minute interview with the Fox Movie Channel by the film's star about his character and the enjoyment he gets playing these kinds of roles in action films. It’s in 480i.
The theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes.
The second disc in the set is the combination DVD/digital copy of the movie. These feature only the theatrical version of the film.
The disc contains promo trailers for Broken City, Fox 3D films, Chasing Mavericks, The Following, the Bond 50 box set, Skyfall, Red Dawn, and The Lawless, among others.
The disc is BD-Live ready, but the website didn't offer any material not on the Blu-ray disc.
3/5 (not an average)
Taken 2 offers some of the same thrills and excitement as the first film but without the freshness and creativity that the first one delivered. Fans of the genre will want to at least rent the film, and the bonuses are also interesting enough to garner a look.