Coming Soon: Taken 2: Electric Boogaloo

Taken 2 poster

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills–skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you; I will not pursue you. But if you don’t: I will look for you, I will find you…and I will kill you.”

Liam Neeson uttered those words in Taken, following the instantly-classic scene where his daughter is kidnapped.

Act I is over. Time for Act II, motherfuckers.

The marketers knew how powerful those words were, so they edited them into a memorable poster.

Those words had a mighty impact. They turned Liam Neeson into an action star in his late 50s. They were the key to the success of the movie, and the success of the movie demonstrated that there was a thirst out there for exciting movies aimed at adults and older teenagers in the late winter and early spring, a time previously thought of as Hollywood’s dumping ground.

Hollywood has jumped on that. The smash The Hunger Games (early March 2012) likely would have been released in summer or at Christmas, and made less money, had Taken not shown that there were still eager moviegoers that time of year. Liam Neeson scored again in the same release window with the flawed but fascinating The Grey, and director Taylor Hackford and star Jason Statham will be attempting the same thing with Parker next year.

Which makes sense, because there will be, I pray, much for the Taken fan to like in Parker, and there is much for the Parker fan to like in Taken. Determination, revenge, professionalism…I don’t need to detail it because 90% of you reading this have seen the movie.

Taken was excellent. Taken was a hit. Taken is one of my all-time favorite action flicks.

For one of those reasons, Taken is getting a sequel.

If you’ve ever read the classic collection of Joe Bob Briggs’ columns, Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, you are familiar with Joe Bob’s rule of sequels:

“If you’re gonna make a sequel, make a sequel. Bring the dead people back to life and do it all over again.”

They aren’t bringing the dead back to life here (no Weekend at Bernie’s 2 is this), but they do the next best thing. The dead dudes’ relatives (instead of the dead dudes) kidnap Liam’s ex-wife (instead of his daughter).

It’s the Joe Bob Briggs approach. It’s the Death Wish 2 approach. Do it all over again.

I’m disappointed, in concept. The character of Bryan Mills has a lot to offer beyond chasing down more-improbable kidnappings of more-improbable relatives.

Go out on a limb! Throw him in a different situation! With different villains!

Is it because they underestimate the audience’s intelligence?

They shouldn’t. To repeat myself, Taken showed that there was a thirst in that release window for exciting movies aimed at adults. The Grey was ambitious and intelligent, and it was a hit. So why do the filmmakers think that audiences are too stupid to figure out that, say, Terror Squad is the sequel to Taken after a trailer that makes that clear, word of mouth, Internet buzz, and the fact that the audience has already demonstrated that it is not stupid and will go see things like Taken and The Grey, so long as they are worth watching? Hell, people figured out that Magnum Force was the sequel to Dirty Harry, and they only had punchcards and terminals back then!

It’s a big mistake. Now they are stuck with Taken 3 and Taken 4 instead of Jade Dragon and Devil’s Playground and a franchise that could go on for many titles rather than inevitably petering out when no one wants to see Great Aunt Tilly get took in Taken 4: The Crackdown.

Yes, I’m a tad hypocritical here for bashing. The trailer is great, and I’ll be there opening night or as close as possible to it. But no matter how good the movie is, it’s a missed opportunity.

Thank God the first James Bond movie didn’t come out these days, else we might have been stuck with Dr. No, Dr. No 2, Dr. No 3

The Refreshments – “Girly”