This week’s home video releases include a new Woody Allen dramedy, a horror film starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and a sequel to the hit movie “Taken.”
3 stars (out of four)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some sensuality
20th Century Fox
Available on: DVD and Blu-ray
Director Pierre Morel’s “Taken” was a surprise hit in 2008, and it helped turn Liam Neeson into a full-fledged action star. In the film, Neeson introduced us to Bryan Mills, a former CIA operative with an uncanny aptitude for finding and dispatching bad guys. After learning that his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), fell victim to a human-trafficking ring, Bryan travelled to Europe and put his skills to work, eventually recovering her.
In “Taken 2,” Bryan is still dealing with the fallout from those events. The father of one of the criminals that Bryan killed in the first movie is out for revenge, and he strikes when Bryan invites both Kim and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), on a trip to Istanbul. Wisely sensing that it would be too redundant if Bryan were again asked to save his daughter, screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (both returning from the original film) offer a twist. This time it’s Bryan who is kidnapped, but he isn’t alone. The thugs, led by a nasty old man named Murad (Rade Serbedzija), grab his ex-wife, too. That means Bryan can’t simply strong-arm his way out of the situation. What’s more, he knows that Kim is a likely target as well. So, he has to escape his predicament rapidly.
“Taken 2” doesn’t bring anything new to the table, as director Olivier Megaton seems perfectly satisfied presenting it as a straight-ahead action film. That means character development and plot get less attention than fight sequences and shootouts, but that’s not such a bad thing. Neeson is great in this role, and the fun lies in watching him figure out how to escape and what to do next. Megaton, director of “Colombiana” and “Transporter 3,” is at his best with this sort of material, and his pacing for “Taken 2” is breathless.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include a short feature on the special effects and an alternate ending.