Friday, 2 November 2012

Nothing Given Back: Taken 2 Reviewed

Nothing Given Back

The first ever film review on The Riviera, and an important question asked: is this the end of creativity in modern cinema?

Film: Taken 2
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen
Released date: 3/10/2012

A fascinating point often made, and one that is especially true of the Movie and film industry that we have today, is that creativity and popularity do not necessarily have any correlation between them. That used to be the case of course. Celebrated works like The Shining, Apocalypse Now or Alien are thus revered because there had never been anything before like them. Throughout the cultural revolutions of the '60s and '70s, the cinema attending masses were much more willing to have their own personal boundaries of what was acceptable pushed and twisted into disorientation. Nowadays people are much more accepting of "meat and potatoes" adaptations and works of media art, meaning that essentially, they just want to be pleased. It means that usually the more creative films begin to garner more a cult following and fan base, quite undeservedly a lot of the time. It also means that there is plenty of the mentality who love to lap up things like Taken 2.

Taken 2 is the sequel to, err, Taken, the 2008 film by Olivier Megaton, in which a man's daughter goes on holiday to Europe and gets kidnapped and turned into a forcefully Heroin- addled prostitute. Thus, our action man Liam Neeson embarks on an epic adventure across Europe in search of his daughter, killing, torturing and making ominous phone calls as he does so. Taken was exactly that kind of "meat and potatoes" action film, although it was expanded and made more colourful by some incredible inclusions of tension. In Taken 2, we're back in Eastern Europe (Istanbul), and the relatives of those who Neeson (character name Bryan Mills, an ode to creativity indeed) killed in the search for his daughter are hunting him and his family down in search of revenge.

A bit like the Hostel franchise, Taken 2 essentially relies on the basics of the story line of the first, only this time it's the mother and Mills' wife Lenore (Janssen) who gets kidnapped. So, the first problem with Taken 2 is the aforementioned lack of creativity. Secondly, just as he so often does, Liam Neeson looks as emotive as a wooden plank most of the time, ironically especially so at a particular scene in which the situation would probably send any man into a murderous rage. Thirdly, Kim's (Maggie Grace) turn as a Lara Croft- esque action girl simply doesn't suit, not to mention the ridiculous rescue "tactics" she employs towards the end of the film. Finally, and perhaps most disappointingly, for the most part Taken 2 is completely passionless. There's none of the tension or suspense that the first film managed to weave in its favour.

Most worryingly of all however is the fact that this will almost definitely be one of the most popular films of the year. That's not necessarily a worrying fact because audience's tastes have been dumbed down. People will watch what they like. But it confirms that the cash cow now dominates modern mainstream cinema, and thus suggests the conclusion that perhaps very soon there won't be any room for creativity in mainstream cinema at all. Go and see Taken 2, you may very well enjoy it.


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