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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Taken 2

March 9th, 2013

Taken 2 - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

The original Taken cost just $25 million to make and was released in January, so expectations were limited. However, it nearly broke the record for a January release and earned more than $200 million worldwide. Needless to say, a sequel was given the greenlight. Taken 2 cost much, much more to make, but did the higher budget translate into a more entertaining product?

The Movie

Taken 2 starts where Taken ends. Bryan Mills rescued his daughter, Kim, and in the process killed a number of Albanian gangsters. Now one of the gangsters is racing home to the funeral of the slain men. The crime boss, Murad Krasniqi, tells his men they must get revenge for these deaths. Its not just business for him, as his son, Marko, was one of those killed.

We then check in on Bryan, who is living in Los Angeles. He's getting ready to give Kim a driving lesson, but when he gets to his ex-wife's house, Lenore first lies about where Kim is, and then admits Kim is skipping out on her driving lesson to be with her boyfriend. Lenore makes Bryan promise he won't track down Kim's new boyfriend. He lies. Kim is having trouble adjusting to a normal life and having a father who can track her down like that is a little unnerving. Kim makes her father promise he won't going digging into her boyfriend's past. He lies, again.

Meanwhile, Lenore's divorce has taken a turn for the nasty and Bryan suggests she and Kim should join him in Istanbul. He's working there, but the job will only take a few days and then they will be able to spend time together. It's the perfect plan. ... Except at the same time, the Albanians are torturing people looking for Bryan and after getting one good lead and they learn he will be in Istanbul.

The start of the family vacation is great, Kim even tries to get Bryan and Lenore back together. However, despite the pleasant start, Murad and his men are on their way. Fortunately, Bryan is really good at his job and he quickly deduces he's been followed. Unfortunately, Lenore is just a civilian and when the escape plan Bryan gives her is blocked, she's captured, forcing Bryan to surrender. He is able to contact Kim and let her know she's in danger, so at least she is able to escape. Later on, he is able to contact her and tells her to get to the American Embassy. Kim, on the other hand, wants to help rescue her father.

How Kim goes about helping rescue her parents is really the only spoiler in the movie, so we will stop the plot summary there.

When it comes to recommending Taken 2 or not, the obvious place to start is with Taken. If you didn't like the first movie, there's almost no chance you will be interested in this movie. I liked the first film. It wasn't intellectually challenging, but it was a fun action film. So what does Taken 2 do better than Taken? I do like the fact that Kim was given a more proactive role in the film. Unfortunately, that's the only real improvement over the first film. Taken 2 lacks the energy or the style that the first film had. It is too by-the-numbers and has too many clichés to deal with. There are some effective action scenes and some good family moments in the movie, but overall it feels like a quick cash grab rather than a story that needed to be told. If you are a big fan of the first film, or of the genre in general, then it is worth watching, but it is not half as good as the original.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD include an extended alternate ending. It's 25 minutes long, so it is not an insubstantial extra. On the other hand, the 5-minute long FX Movie Channel Presents is exactly that, insubstantial. The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical and the unrated edition, the latter of which has an optional pop-up trivia track. There is also a look at some of the gadgets in the movie and several deleted scenes. That's not a great selection of extras.

The technical presentation is much better than the movie. The video and audio are both amazing with lots of detail, excellent colors, strong contrast, deep blacks, etc. There are a few scenes that are a tad on the soft side, but nothing really noticeable. There are no signs of digital manipulation or compression artifacts. The audio has very clear dialogue, but also a lot of activity in the surround sound speakers. Ambient sounds from the city fill the rear speakers, while there's good dynamic and directional effects throughout the action scenes.

The Blu-ray costs less than $4 or 20% more than the DVD, which is an excellent price for this type of release.

The Verdict

If you really loved the first film, then Taken 2 is worth checking out, but odds are there's not enough replay value that the DVD or the Blu-ray Combo Pack are worth picking up. If you are intent on buying, the latter is worth the extra money.

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Filed under: Video Review, Taken 2, Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Sherbedgia, Arben Bajraktaraj