(Video on Demand, February 2013) Part of the appeal of the original Taken was seeing a rather serious dramatic actor like Liam Neeson take on an action-hero role, within an exploitation film that was competently scripted and directed. Taken 2 has no such element of surprise, and little to offer in terms of execution. Frankly, its premise half-reads as a parody: Members of his family get kidnapped… again! Of course, there’s a little more than that to it: the revenge-driven premise cleverly springs from the consequences of the first film, and you can point at this sequel to show how the expectations set by the first instalment are cleverly tweaked (ie; the adults get kidnapped but the daughter doesn’t, and the protagonist has to work with his daughter to get the means to escape) alongside the way Istanbul is used as a setting in order to show how Taken 2 is reasonably good at what it set out to do. Unfortunately, there isn’t much extra substance or interest to the film. Luc Besson’s “Digital Factory” is not known for consistent products, and Taken 2 falls in the middle of their offerings. Director Olivier Megaton isn’t as meanly efficient as Taken’s Pierre Morel (his action sequences don’t flow quite as well), and the script seems noticeably lighter: Mute off the gunfights and chase sequences, and not much remains in this fairly linear plot. Liam Neeson, of course, isn’t the same actor as he used to be: Although equally effective at inhabiting his character, he is now (after Taken, The A-Team, Unknown and The Grey) almost his own Liamsploitation action category. Taken 2 isn’t much of a surprise, nor does it work as hard as the original at pleasing audiences… considering that the effectiveness of original was almost an accident, trying to replicate it doesn’t really work. It’s a film that works best as filler for people who want a quasi-copy of the original. Everyone else may want to look at something else.