'Taken 2' laughably dumb

Liam Neeson in Taken 2. (Handout)

Liam Neeson in Taken 2. (Handout)

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:49 AM ET

"Listen to me closely," Liam Neeson commands via cellphone. "Your mother and I have been taken."

Again.

At the Taken 2 screening I attended, this thuddingly clumsy attempt to inject the title of Neeson's most successful action-star turn into the dialogue, elicited one of the bigger laughs of what turned out to be a hilariously bad, ostensibly serious movie.

(Here's an even bigger laugh-getter, albeit morbidly so given recent events: "Get yourself to the U.S. Embassy. You'll be safe there.")

Admittedly, it was the daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) who was "taken" by human slave traders in the watchable original. But Dad, Mom (Famke Janssen) AND Daughter are all in play as prey in this tale of revenge-obsessed Albanians, all relatives of the human traders dispatched by CIA killing-machine/devoted-dad Bryan Mills (Neeson) in the original.

Written by Luc Besson and directed by the aptly named Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3), this utterly improbable orgy of gun battles, car chases and property damage takes place in Istanbul -- which the director takes pains to portray as a scary Muslim place (he seems obsessed with closeups of the famed Blue Mosque and women in burkas, a garment one sees relatively little of there in real life).

The set-up for all this is rushed. Bryan's ex-wife is having problems in her subsequent marriage, and Bryan has a mysterious assignment in Turkey involving mysterious Arabs and a wad of cash in an envelope. So hey, why not make a family vacation of it?

Meanwhile, the Albanian crime patriarch Murad (Rade Sherbedgia), has extracted Bryan's location via torture of another operative, and is en route to Istanbul with a couple of carfuls of heavily armed Albanian goons and allowed over the border by an apparently paid-off Turkish guard (since Albania and Turkey don't share a border, I'm guessing they paid off some Greeks too).

The rest you can pretty much guess. I will add, however, that these are the dumbest Albanian criminals this side of the Adriatic. On a mission to capture Bryan and take him back home, they cause more collateral damage and kill more bystanders than an all-out terrorist attack. I'm not quite sure how they were planning to make it back over the border, since the scale of destruction would be international news.

As for the American Embassy, the ambassador probably had some explaining to do after Bryan and Kim were through with it. Part of the "character arc" of the movie is Bryan educating his darling daughter on the fly in the art of being an engine-of-destruction, including using grenade explosions as a locator device and driving through blockades.

The plot is embarrassingly simple: save Dad, save Mom, let Dad kill Albanians. ("What are you planning to do?" he's asked, before a rampage. "What I do best," he replies.) So the movie is larded with repetition. You could make a drinking game out of any number of things in the movie, including shots of the aforementioned Blue Mosque (though that would be sacrilegious) or any time one of the Albanians says something like, "Go see what that sound was."

I have a better idea: Don't go. Unless you're in the mood for a good laugh.


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