When “Mission: Impossible 3” was released, the thing I enjoyed most about it was the way it took a convention of the series and spun an entire bad guy plot out of that. In almost every episode of “Mission: Impossible,” the team would grab some low-level nobody, knock him out, tie him up, and use their magic elastic masks to steal the guy’s face. Hunt’s mistake in the movie was doing that to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who decided to pay him back. It would be like a “Star Trek” film where the bad guy was some anonymous red shirt who was pissed off because Kirk left him for dead on an alien planet.
When I look at the trailer for “Taken 2,” it feels like the same sort of interesting riff on the conventions of the genre, and I really like the set-up. In the first “Taken,” Liam Neeson killed about 10,000 dudes who were all part of the same criminal organization. It’s pretty standard action movie behavior, but what seems new is the idea that those guys actually mattered to someone, and so in this film, we see them strike back at him. It’s very personal, and unlike a sequel like “Die Hard 2,” where pure coincidence is the only thing that brings John McClane back into the action, this is very much a reaction to what John Taken (or whatever the hell Liam Neeson’s name was in the first film) did.
I like this new trailer a lot. Maggie Grace looks like she gets to be in on the action this time around, and there’s a nice sense of escalation in terms of how big this one is. Olivier Megaton, the action director with the greatest name of all time, looks like he’s going balls to the wall on this, and I have confessed many times before that I have a real soft spot for that Luc Besson factory of action, that particular school of mayhem. I’m glad there’s at least one company in the world that is reliably turning out these movies with a certain level of gloss and style, and “Taken 2” has the added benefit of Liam Neeson in the midst of it all.
It’s hard to believe that there was a point in the not-too-distant past where Neeson was not thought of as an action icon. When you look at him, he appears to have been genetically designed to beat the holy hell out of bad guys, and it’s like he’s been doing this sort of badassery his entire career.
I look forward to October, when Liam Nesson will single-handedly kill the population of an entire Eastern Bloc nation.