The French appear to be 20 or so years behind the Anglophone world when it comes to issues of political correctness – which makes it all the more jarring when French filmmakers turn their hands to English-language movies.
In the case of the 2008 Luc Besson-produced action thriller Taken, the sight of Liam Neeson laying waste to hordes of shifty foreigners provided a frisson that made the film a guilty-pleasure hit, but it’s unlikely that Besson can pull off the same trick twice by serving up more of the same with cash-in sequel Taken 2.
The first Taken saw Neeson’s ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills get medieval on the asses of a bunch of Albanian sex traffickers after they snatched his 17-year-old daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from her Parisian holiday flat.
Taken 2 finds the tables initially turned when Bryan and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) are taken hostage during a trip to Istanbul by a gang led by the vengeful father (Rade Serbedzija) of one of the thugs he killed while rescuing Kim.
Of course, even when chained up in a cellar, with his wife hoisted upside down and slowly bleeding to death beside him, Bryan is more than a match for his Balkan captors.
It helps that the kidnappers have failed to lay their hands on Kim, who scampers over Istanbul’s rooftops to locate her incarcerated parents with the aid of a map, a shoelace and a bag of grenades – a sequence that produced loud guffaws at the film’s press screening but which is actually ridiculously entertaining and shows off the Turkish capital to picturesque effect.
Overall, though, Olivier Megaton’s flabby direction fails to match the muscular vigour of the first film (directed by Pierre Morel) and the script is shoddy, but viewers seeking undemanding thrills may find Neeson’s charisma and the colourful locations satisfying enough.
In cinemas from Thursday 4th October.