I think all of us who saw the first Taken* were pretty impressed. I mean, here was Liam Neeson and his wife (or daughter)** was taken and he was all, “I’ll get you back, if it’s the last thing I do!” And then he got her/them, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Because how scary must that have been? Super scary. “This is what movies are about,” I said, upon seeing the first film.* “You get scared, but then in the end you aren’t scared, because now everything is fixed.”
So imagine my horror and amazement when I saw the ads for Taken 2. I knew right away that it was probably related to that first Taken movie, and it sure sounded like someone was took again, so I was quite worried. Liam Neeson got them out of that scrape the first time, but just barely!!! I took my concern right to the movie theater. I handed over my money and prepared myself for the worst.
Well, let me tell you something. I am not sorry. Because Taken 2 is easily the best film of the year. Maybe the decade. Maybe ever.
SPOILER ALERT: they are taken again! I was totally right. If you saw the movie and were shocked by this, don’t feel bad for not predicting it like I did. I am a professional writer, so it’s my job to be able suss things like this out. I am trained to see things other people miss. It’s very frustrating to see a movie with me because I almost always know what is going to happen next. Sometimes all it takes is some foreboding music, and I’m all, “Uh oh! Someone’s probably going to get killed!” And then it happens and the people with me call me Rasputin or try to burn me for witchcraft. It’s just training.
But yeah. Liam Neeson starts off all happy because he found his wife and/or daughter in the first movie, and then all of a sudden, BOOM. Taken. And he’s all, “Holy. Crap.” (This is where the movie really takes off. Up until this point, it’s all old-people kissing and junk that no one wants to see, so you can skip the first part if you want.)
How do they get taken? SPOILER ALERT: it’s pretty classic stuff. They are tricked into drinking large quantities of metal shavings, then a helicopter with a giant magnet flies along and sucks them right off the street. It’s pretty awesome. And when you see helicopter, you think SKY ADVENTURE, right? WRONG, FOOLS! It’s an UNDERGROUND ADVENTURE.
Liam Neeson faces his greatest enemy: a man with the body of an alligator, and the face of an alligator, but the insides of a man. His name is Mr. Pickles, and he has taken Liam Neeson’s wife/daughter to his underground lair to become his bride(s). Liam Neeson must descend into the sewers to rescue her/them from Mr. Pickles before the ceremony takes place, or she/they will never be able to come to the surface again.
What follows are some of the best sewer scenes ever committed to film. To prepare for this part, Liam Neeson ACTUALLY LIVED IN A SEWER for nine months. According to some reports, his skin took on a scaley consistency, not unlike a snake. By the end it was extremely difficult to lure him back up. Eventually, they had to get some kind of a hoist and then a team went down there and put Liam Neeson into a kind of harness and they pulled him, KICKING AND SCREAMING, back into the light. They say that, even now, Liam Neeson has a rat in his pocket at ALL TIMES, but his reps say it’s a ferret so he doesn’t seem weird.
He put this intensity and this experience into his performance. For the entire second half of the movie, Liam Neeson screams, without once pausing for breath. It is an unbroken 45 minute scream. This made the audience in the theater I was at start to scream, and by the end it was just screaming and screaming and screaming. It was INTENSE!!! Four people passed out. Someone set off a fire extinguisher.
Meanwhile, up on the screen, Liam Neeson is just punching alligator-men left and right. Also? In the movie? He organizes all the rats with his screaming, so the rats are totally doing this coordinated move that’s kind of like a dance? It’s hard to explain. You have to see it.
Does he get them back? I’ll let YOU be the judge of that! I got a concussion during the frenzy at the end of my screening, so I’m not entirely sure myself. But I can tell you this, if they make a Taken 3, I’ll be there. And if they make a Taken 3D, I’ll go twice.
(Reviewer’s note: I have not seen Taken 2.)
(Second reviewer’s note: I’m supposed to be writing something else right now. Please do not share this link with my editor.)
* I did not see the first film either.
** Maybe it was both of them? See above point.