Taken was a movie that came out of nowhere. The standard response to it was, “You’ve got to be kidding me”. Liam Neeson, the guy from a bunch of Oscar nominated movies, as an action hero? A plot this old?
But it worked. Now here comes Taken 2 with a trailer.
Taken 2 looks like it works too. It’s silly and ridiculous on one level. But on another level it’s Liam Neeson as the new Harrison Ford and it’s the revival of an action movie that doesn’t rely on a bunch of conspicuous special effects.
The action movie never really died. Steven Spielberg buried Last Action Hero, the coda to the 80’s Action Movie, with Jurassic Park, the new CG fueled Jaws, that made the disaster/monster movie driven by CG into the new blockbuster again. Arnold was out, CG critters were in. (These days Spielberg oversees the attack on movies by producing Transformers.)
But the action movie kept coming back. Jackie Chan brought it back to America from Hong Kong. And English, French and Russian filmmakers have brought it back with Transporters, Wanted and Taken.
Taken 2 doesn’t rely on anything too elaborate. The family goes on vacation. The gang responsible for the last kidnapping looks to get revenge and the rest follows. It’s Frantic with a cold ruthless trained killer instead of a nervous tourist. And again it looks like it works. It’s a script from the guy who did the Transporter movies and the original Taken (not to mention the Karate Kid movies). And it’s directed by the weird French director of Transporter 3. There will be lots of running on roofs and lots of cold-blooded no-hesitation trigger pulls.
Sure it could be awful. 20 minutes of it could just be Liam Neeson hugging his family or Maggie Grace auditioning for American Idol, but it probably won’t be. Because it’s efficient. The Transporter movies were about a guy with no time to spare. Taken had that same sparse no-time-to-spare formula, counting down every second. Taken 2 promises the same thing.
The action movie isn’t quite back. For every Taken, there will be a dozen board games adapted into movies (Liam Neeson was in Battlefield) and comic book movie reboots. But like its hard-charging never-say-die protagonists, it also refuses to go away.