The first warning sign arrives with the title: Taken 2 is exactly as boring as the filmmakers could get. Why not Taken Again, or Under Taken or Re-Taken or even Taken: The Turkish Job? Something that hints at the fact that the filmmakers know how stupid the idea of a Taken sequel is would be a balm to nervous moviegoers. Unfortunately, this is a movie that takes itself way too seriously.
Let's be clear: The first Taken was action candy, along the lines of a Jason Statham movie. It was xenophobic, amoral, and mean, but American audiences came out in droves to watch Liam Neeson brutally murder the foreigners who dared to take his daughter (Maggie Grace), and it made so much money that a sequel was practically required by law. But how, even in a movie world as logic-free as this one, do filmmakers justify these characters facing another kidnapping at the hands of evil foreigners, requiring Neeson to kick even more ass? Turns out, they just didn't worry about it.
The enemies in Taken 2 are out for revenge. They're countrymen of Neeson's victims in the first film, led by the father of Taken's main bad guy. And their brilliant revenge plan is to kidnap Neeson and his family. There are very few winks to the ridiculous idea that a family could suffer two kidnappings in the span of a year or two, and the only twist to the formula is that this time the daughter has to free her father and mother. Taken 2 occasionally delivers some brain-dead thrills. There's a hilarious sequence in which Grace uses geometry and a few wildly thrown grenades in order to locate her father. But Olivier Megaton's direction is awful. He barely makes use of the movie's Istanbul setting—only a rooftop chase really gets the location across—and his action and chase scenes are a choppy, un-follow-able mess. Taken 2 could have been a lot of fun, but it turns out to be just another dumb (or worse, intellectually deceitful) sequel. How boring.