CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: ‘Taken 2’ with Liam Neeson Trades Action For Nonsense
CHICAGO – Olivier Megaton’s “Taken 2” is utter nonsense, a film that plays like a cross between Seth MacFarlane spoofing the first film on “Family Guy” and “MacGyver” fan fiction (although nowhere NEAR as much fun as that might make it sound). Everything that worked about the action-packed “Taken,” a surprising hit and a solid genre flick, has been corrupted here by jump cuts, horrendous plotting, and a complete lack of anything of interest outside of Neeson’s half-engaged performance. It’s truly awful.
Perhaps the biggest problem with “Taken 2” on a foundational level is that the first film had a common fear with which to play. One could identify with Kim Mills (Maggie Grace), the girl who ventured outside of her comfort zone and was kidnapped. Anyone who can remember the first time they traveled without their parents as a safety net can relate to that fear of what could happen halfway around the world. By the same token, those who have children could relate to the fear inherent in letting them leave the nest. “Taken” worked because it played off relatable themes and turned them into action fodder.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Taken 2” in our reviews section.|
“Taken 2” does none of that. It presumes an interest and concern for Kim, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) that simply isn’t there. You know why? They’re not real characters. They’re ridiculous clichés of the protective father who tracks down her daughter’s boyfriend, the ex-wife who is struggling with her new relationship (because, let’s be honest, there’s no way she can find happiness without Super-Bryan to save her), and the daughter who is so thin on character that she gets to veer broadly from tough chick to damsel in distress as the nauseating screenplay dictates.
In a woefully misguided answer to the “how on Earth do we get these people kidnapped again” question, “Taken 2” is actually a vengeance piece. Its villain is Murad Hoxha (Rade Serbedszija), the father of the main villain from “Taken,” the guy who wanted to sell Kim into the sex trade. He wants revenge on the man who did the world a favor when he killed Murad’s son. Bryan, Kim, and Lenore end up in Istanbul, where Murad conveniently has a cavalry of personality-less goons to woefully attempt his bidding and die at the hands of the most unlikely action hero of the new millennium.
Photo credit: Fox