To quote Liam Neeson's now-famous line from "Taken," "Taken 2? has a particular set of skills. And it's no good at any of them.
Neeson is back in the sequel as former government super agent Bryan Mills. When we first met him four years ago in "Taken," he went after a bunch of Albanians who kidnapped his daughter, drugged her and tried to sell her into slavery. It was an impressive, albeit quite unbelievable, display of action gaudiness that did well at the box office.
So, remember all those Albanians? Remember how Bryan killed them? Guess what? They all have families, and those families aren't happy about what happened. As it turns out, all of the dead guys were from the same village, and the father of one of them hatches a plot to exact revenge on Bryan, by kidnapping him while he's doing some security work in Istanbul.
It's here that "Taken 2? becomes a holey mess. And I do mean h-o-l-e-y, not h-o-l-y, because it's so full of holes.
The henchmen are given strict orders to capture Bryan alive so they can take him back to the village, where the families can enjoy the satisfaction of torturing him to death. But in the very first car chase scene, they're aiming kill shots right at Bryan's windshield. Why aren't they aiming at the car's tires? They spent a lot of time and money planning and paying off various people around Istanbul to capture this guy, and now they're trying to kill him?
Then Bryan's ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), surprise him in Istanbul. The bad guys, though, act as if they knew the women were going to be there. Huh? Then consider that Kim doesn't yet have her driver's license - in fact, the movie's opening features Bryan tracking Kim down at her boyfriend's house when she fails to show for a scheduled driving lesson. Yet later in the film, Kim's able to drive a stick shift through the narrow Istanbul streets like Jimmy Johnson driving a modified Chevy through the desert. The culmination of this car chase is one of the top five most ridiculous film scenes of the year.
Even so, plot holes in a mindless action film can be forgiven if the film's entertaining, but "Taken 2? is barely that. While the presentation is slick and the cast does exactly what they're asked, there's more entertainment value, and logic, in an episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."
One-and-a-half out of five stars.