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"TAKEN 2" (PG-13) HH
LIAM NEESON, MAGGIE GRACE, FAMKE JANSSEN
It's not as good as the first installment, a perfectly straightforward film where bad guys kidnapped a military man's daughter and he used all his deadly skill to get her back.
And, oh, what deadly skills he had.
But critics who've totally panned this sequel have been too hard on it.
It still has Liam Neeson as the protective dad, Bryan, and the likable Maggie Grace as daughter Kim, who, in this film, fights by his side to get back the mother and ex-wife (Famke Janssen) who's been kidnapped.
Things are more complicated this time out as we have a second bit of revenge: The kidnapper is the father of the bad guy Bryan killed in the first film.
It takes longer to get to the action this time around, thanks mostly to a segment where we get to watch Bryan and Kim being father and daughter in a regular sort of suburban atmosphere.
But things get going soon enough, and it's interesting to watch the military-trained father and scared-silly daughter work together to free her mother.
Parents who have fretted over helping children pass a driver's test will enjoy that as a plot point early in the film, especially when it gets turned on its head. Kim is forced to drive while people are shooting machine guns at her and cops are chasing her through crowded city streets.
In the end, this film is still an entertaining outing, using the same underlying message of the first movie--don't go messing with the family of a guy who's trained to kill with his bare hands.
It does make you wonder, however, why this particular family would ever travel abroad again after going 2-for-2 on getting kidnapped. But they surely will. The back story here leaves the potential for some bad guys to try another round of kidnappings.
It just goes to show--if the movie makes enough money, they always leave the door open for a sequel.
But as long as Neeson and Grace are in the cast, it's worth the trip.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action, some sensuality. 92 min. [MC, PV, RA]
"FRANKENWEENIE" (PG) HHH
WINONA RYDER, CATHERINE O'HARA, MARTIN SHORT
HOW WE RATE 'EM
H Don't waste your time.
HH Nothing special
HHHH A must-see