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Olivier Megaton
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, Rade Serbedzija, Kevork Malikyan
Writing Credits:
Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

First they took his daughter. Now they're coming for him.

Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, the ex-CIA operative who stopped at nothing to rescue his daughter from sadistic kidnappers. When the father of one of the kidnappers swears revenge, it is Bryan and his wife who find themselves "taken" hostage in Istanbul. To survive, Bryan must enlist the help of an unlikely ally and use his brutally efficient skills to take out his heavily-armed foes one by one.

Box Office:
$45 million.
Opening Weekend
$49.514 million on 3661 screens.
Domestic Gross
$139.499 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1 (Theatrical Only)
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Only)
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: Original Theatrical Version: 92 min. / Unrated Edition: 98 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 1/15/2013

Disc One:
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Versions of the Film
• Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending
• “Black Ops Field Manual
• “Sam’s Tools of the Trade” Featurette
• “In Character with Liam Neeson” Featurette
• “Avant Premiere” Featurette
• Previews and Trailer
Disc Two:
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Taken 2: Unrated Cut [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 25, 2013)

Some movies lend themselves to sequels better than others. Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Back to the Future? All segued smoothly into additional chapters. Titanic or Schindler’s List? Not so much potential there.

For some franchises to progress, the sequels need to come with a fair amount of contrivance. Take Die Hard, for instance – the notion of “the same shit happening to the same guy twice” was so absurd that the screenplay felt the need to allude to it.

Throw 2009’s Taken into the “sequels that require a leap of faith” pool. In that film, former CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) had to rescue his kidnapped teen daughter (Maggie Grace) from Albanian sex slave merchants, with much violence along the way.

Where did this leave room for a sequel? Was the daughter going to be kidnapped again for Retaken or Taken 2: Even Takener?

Nope – while 2012’s Taken 2 doesn’t radically reinvent its wheel, at least it doesn’t just remake the first film. This time, Mills, daughter Kim and former wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) take a trip to Istanbul; Bryan’s there for work, so he brings the others over to give them a break.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t go as well as they’d like. Albanian crime lord Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedgia) needs to settle a score: Bryan killed Krasniqi’s son – one of Kim’s kidnappers – in the first movie. Krasniqi’s goons track Bryan to Turkey and head there to exact their revenge.

When Krasniqi’s men get after Bryan, he initially manages to hold them off, but they take Lenore so he needs to give himself up as well. Before this happens, Bryan manages to warn Kim while he attempts to escape from the baddies and save his family. The switch? Kim becomes an active participant in the rescue.

If nothing else, I’ll given Taken 2 credit for the way it makes the implausibility of another kidnapping seem believable. In the first movie, Kim just was a victim of circumstance, someone in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here, however, Bryan and family become specific targets. While both involve kidnappings, at least they give us different paths to get there and variations on the other themes.

While these shifts give the movie a little narrative variety, they don’t really attempt to change the template. The first flick’s main appeal came from Bryan’s determined, no holds barred style, and the same concept carries the day here as well. Sure, it switches up the theme to make Bryan one of the abducted parties, but that ultimately feels like window-dressing. Any Taken movie will focus on Bryan’s super-warrior skills, so one shouldn’t expect him to play kidnap victim for long.

The first film never seemed like a superlative example of its genre, but I liked its gritty, relentless manner as well as the humanity Neeson brought to his role. Unfortunately, both of those areas falter somewhat in the sequel.

At no point do I think Neeson does a poor job here, but he doesn’t seem as invested in the part this time. Neeson brings us a more one-dimensional, superficial performance as Bryan. While he still handles the tough guy material well, he tends to coast through the rest of it. As Neeson appears to go through the motions, we find ourselves less interested in the characters or their plight; we still kind of care, but not as much as we should.

It probably doesn’t help that the movie does little to nothing to expand the other parts. Lenore exists just as a plot device – the movie works overtime to come up with a reason for her to visit her ex-husband – and the decision to make Kim part of the rescue effort seems contrived as well.

I guess the filmmakers felt that another “one man against an army” tale would feel stale, but I disagree. Bryan doesn’t need a junior partner – we really just want to see him do his dirty work on his own. The expansion to include Kim comes across as a burden rather than a bonus.

The action itself doesn’t work as well this time either. Again, the movie simply lacks the first tale’s urgency, so its set pieces don’t provide the same level of oomph. Some decent fights emerge, but they’re never especially involving.

All of this leaves Taken 2 as a fairly perfunctory action flick. At no point do I think it becomes a poor film, but it also seems “by the numbers” and without much purpose. Given the successes of the first movie, it ends up as a disappointment.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Taken 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This wound up as a very appealing presentation.

Sharpness looked solid. Virtually no softness materialized, as the image remained tight and well defined. Jaggies, shimmering and edge enhancement failed to appear. Source flaws were a non-factor, as the movie was always clean.

Where would the modern filmmaker be without teal and orange? Forced to tell stories with fewer clichés, I guess. Despite this – and the introduction of some light greens and tans to “spice up” the visuals - the hues appeared well-developed and displayed good range for what they were able to do. Blacks seemed deep and tight, while shadows were clear and smooth. In the end, the image was consistently excellent.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Taken 2, it matched up well with the visuals. As expected, the movie’s action elements provided the most pizzazz, as car chases and other dynamic sequences showed good movement and involvement. These components meshed together well and created a nice sense of environment, with useful material from the surrounds.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was crisp and distinctive, with no edginess or other concerns. Music was full and rich, while effects came across as lively and accurate. The track boasted good low-end when appropriate. This became a quality soundtrack for an action flick like this.

The disc delivers both the film’s theatrical version (1:32:07) and an unrated cut (1:38:18). How do these differ? Since I only watched the unrated edition, I can’t say. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention that both versions show up here.

Five Deleted Scenes run a total of six minutes, 56 seconds. We find “Airport” (1:35), “Lenore and Kim in Room” (1:26), “Bryan Finds Lenore” (0:43), “Murad on the Phone Near Van” (0:48), and “Foot Chase in Full” (1:52). “Airport” shows the arrival of coffins in Albania, and “Room” lets mother and daughter discuss relationships. “Finds” gives us a little more action, “Phone” adds a minor connecting moment, and “Chase” expands an existing scene. “Room” is the only one with any real narrative value, and it doesn’t do much.

We also get an Alternate Ending. In this 25-minute sequence, we get a long car chase followed by Bryan’s efforts to finish off events. I actually prefer this to the existing finale, as I think the driving scenes add much-needed vitality to the film. I understand why the filmmakers probably went the way they did, as the existing conclusion does more to emphasize the main character, but I think the alternate ending is more interesting.

Under Sam’s Tools of the Trade, we can access information in two different ways. We can learn about spy equipment/weapons via a three-minute, 32-second featurette, or we can check out each item one at a time. Either way you choose, you’ll find an informative little piece.

In Character with Liam Neeson goes for five minutes, one second and includes comments from the actor. He discusses character, story and action. This doesn’t become a deep chat, but Neeson throws in a few interesting notes.

For an interactive feature also found on the first movie’s Blu-ray, we go to the Black Ops Field Manual. This provides a combination of text commentary and statistics that relate to the movie’s plot. The former tells us minor factoids about bits that crop up during the flick. This doesn’t turn into an in-depth piece, but it adds some useful material.

The other bits give us info about characters and situations. We’ll get biographies of the story’s participants as well as occasional “geographic locators”: a map appears on screen and shows us Bryan’s location. At the top of the screen, a bar keeps track of the distance Bryan travels throughout the film and how many people he hurts and kills. We also see views of the injuries experienced by various participants. The presentation can feel gimmicky and I’ve have preferred if “Ops” stayed with just a text commentary, but the overall impact remains reasonably positive.

The disc opens with ads for Broken City, Chasing Mavericks and The Following. These pop under Sneak Peek along with promos for “Bond 50th”, Skyfall, Red Dawn, Lawless and Killing Them Softly. The disc also tosses in the trailer for Taken 2.

A second disc gives us a DVD copy of Taken 2. It provides a barebones affair devoid of any extras.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Taken, I thought it offered an above-average action flick. Unfortunately, Taken 2 fails to live up to its predecessor; it brings us a watchable affair but never rises above that level to become anything better than just “okay”. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals along with solid audio and a decent roster of bonus materials. Fans of the first movie will still enjoy the sequel, but they shouldn’t expect greatness from it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6875 Stars Number of Votes: 32
6 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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