Two years have passed since the mayhem of “Taken,” and “Taken 2” now tasks Bryan (Liam Neeson) with protecting two women, not one. Women comprise the currency of exchange and revenge in these films produced by Luc Besson. In his first scene, Bryan punctually arrives at 2pm on the 22nd of the month at the house of his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) to take their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) for a driving lesson around Los Angeles. Meanwhile: in Albania, the corpses of kidnappers make a belated return to their village burial ground from Paris, where they made the big mistake of having taken Kim in “Taken.” (Her dad took them out.) Now: the dad of their late ringleader wants to take out Bryan in the worst way. All-around Balkan bad guy Rade Serbedzija plays the old country patriarch. (With two more sons, there’s a chance to make a third film.) The script by Robert Mark Kamen and Besson boasts zany asymmetry, with no carryover of backstory. Newcomers will have no idea that Bryan and his golf and barbecue pals are ex-CIA with lethal skills and a spate of unlikely contacts. On the other hand, Bryan will dictate incredibly detailed instructions to Kim and Lenore to undertake special ops for thwarting Albanian baddies. This dialogue is very funny, perhaps unintentionally. Director Olivier Megaton (“Transporter 3,” “Colombiana”) cuts fight scenes with a kinetic clarity lacking in many other action thrillers, with an accelerated rate of crosscutting that approaches self-parody. Parallel action can leap in seconds between simultaneous scenes surrounding Istanbul, where barking dogs alternate with calls to prayer. Euro-depravity is signaled by an Albanian avidity for unfiltered smoking and watching soccer on TV. A technical oversight supplies the best tactical idiocy: Bryan’s secret concealed emergency cellphone lacks a GPS transmitter, although that is precisely what he planted in Kim’s cellphone for tracking her to her boyfriend’s place. So when Bryan is in chains in an Istanbul dungeon, he calls Kim and tells her to toss grenades from her hotel room and various rooftops so that he can triangulate his location by counting the seconds it takes him to hear the explosions travel. This, too, is funny, if not for the locals with collaterally-damaged hearing. With Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes. 92m. (Bill Stamets)
“Taken 2” opens Friday.