Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Taken 2

Taken 2 (2012)

Dude, just stay away from foreign countries.

He came, he saw, he kicked-ass, and took his daughter back (Maggie Grace), and basically lived a life he thought was all fine and dandy, until now. That’s right, this time around, it’s Neeson’s wife (Famke Janssen) who is kidnapped and instead of Paris, it’s going to be Istanbul, and it’s all by the man (Rade Sherbedgia) who wants revenge on Neeson for what he did to his family.

In all honesty, I was very surprised by how much of a success Taken was when it was released way back when in 2009. It did feature a pretty cool trailer, but for what was essentially a pretty lame thriller idea, with a big-name that hasn’t really been big since the first Star Wars prequel, and to top it all off, a film that was released in the dead-heart of January, aka a time nobody goes to see movies cause they’re all pooped-out from seeing the same crap, drunk on egg nog for the past 2 weeks. So, that’s basically why I never understood how the hell it was numero uno at the box-office for about 3 weeks, boosted Qui-Gon Jinn’s career back-up to “action hero” stardom, and made itself destine for a sequel, and possibly more. However, despite all my angry ranting and rambling, I can’t say I hate the idea of a sequel to that film, especially when this is the type of stuff we get.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, Taken still had it’s moments of fun that made the final-product all the more enjoyable. The problem I had with that story was how it would always start-and-stop and always kill the momentum it had going for itself, by focusing too much on the whole internal-crisis that was going on with Neeson and the thought of his daughter going out there and bangin’ dudes under the influence of drugs. I’m not saying he’s wrong to be upset about that, but come on man, go out there and start shootin’ some fuckers and get revenge. That’s exactly what this film is from the 25-minute mark to the end of the whole movie. Need I remind you, that the whole movie itself runs a steady and swift 91 minutes, so that’s basically about an hour of pure mayhem, fun, action, and Oskar Schindler looking as bad-ass as he can look.

Director Olivier Megaton obviously knows the type of movie he’s making here, and you know what? He doesn’t care what you think about it or how you want to look at, he’s having fun and that’s all that matters to him, as it should because it had an extremely positive effect on a group of a d-bags like my friend and I who went to go see this. What’s so exciting and fun about this action is that there is never a dull moment in it to where you think, “Oh great, they’re slowing things down to focus on character-development.” Nope, there’s none of that at all here because we already know who these characters are, what purpose they serve to the story, and why they are motivated to save each other’s lives. We don’t need any freakin’ back-story, we need some freakin’ action and that’s exactly what Megaton delivers on.

However, this is obviously the case where you may have to not only leave your brain at the door, but also have it delivered to you when you’re sleeping in the middle of the night so you sure as hell don’t remember half of the crap you see here because the more you think of it, the more you’re going to ask yourself, “What in the fuck did I just watch?”. Seriously, this movie is one of the dumber ones I have seen the whole year so far and in ways, that’s a compliment, and in others, it’s too distracting to even be considered anything. It’s just there and never seems to go away.

For instance, one of the only subplots that make a difference in this “story” is how Neeson’s daughter is finally learning how to drive with a permit. Now, anybody that ever remembers having a permit, sure as hell remembers how hard it was to go 5 mph down a long-road without falling to the side of the road at least once. I sure as hell do, and if that’s not the exact type of example that has happened to you, something along those lines definitely have and it just goes to show you that when you’re driving a car with your permit, shit is pretty stressful. That’s what really took me by surprise here as the daughter not only goes over 80 mph in very tight and narrow side-streets, but does it all without barely hitting anything, and/or crashing it in the first five-seconds of being behind the wheel. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been so bad either, if it hadn’t been going on for 5 minutes where it was just her driving as if she was taking over Ryan Gosling’s job from Drive, when in reality, the girl still doesn’t know how to master the art of parallel parking, if there ever was one (you city people know what I’m talking about). This example is just one of the many, I do repeat, many of times that this movie just comes off as downright stupid and if you don’t like that with you’re action movies, then stay the hell away and go off and wait for The Avengers 2 to come out in 2014, or whenever the hell Joss Whedon has that planned.

Once again, much to my douchy surprise, Liam Neeson is the big-draw with this flick and as so he should be, the guy still has the talent to pull a character like Bryan Mills, off perfectly. Neeson just has this certain amount of likability and warmth to him that makes you sympathize with his over-protective ways and also make you believe that he’s got everything under-control, when half of the time he’s got a gun pointing straight at his dome. But Neeson is also able to totally switch that off in a heartbeat and make him, your worst nightmare by pulling out all of the stops to succeed in the end and do everything in his power, to kick the ever-loving shit out of you. Neeson does that so well here, but I think it’s his time to eventually hang-it up after this, at least with action anyway. It’s not that Neeson isn’t good nor believable with these roles, because he surprisingly is, it’s just that he seems to old (60) for a role that has the guy moving around, shooting guns, beating the tar out of dudes half his age, and still not be able to break a bone of get a hernia. I love you and all, Liam, but maybe it’s time to go back to drama and see if you got one, last Oscar-push left in ya. That’s all I’m saying, though.

Maggie Grace, despite her out-of-nowhere expertise of driving, does a nice job as the sweet but determined daughter of Bryan, but also seems a bit hard to believe as a girl that is still 17 and going for her learner’s permit. It also surprised me that the first-shot of her that we get is her getting groped by her boy-toy, when in reality, I would think that someone who just got drugged-up and raped by a bunch of Russian mobsters, would still feel a little dramatized and not allow anyone to touch her in that way and to just take it slow. Basically, any girl that’s like that with me would be tossed-out as quick as 1-week old pie, but since it’s Maggie Grace, ehh, I think can withstand the wait. Rade Sherbedgia is here in his 100,000th anniversary appearance as playing the stereotypical, Russian villain that never seems to do a nice thing throughout the whole movie, and is still pretty good at it, even if his character does seem a bit overly-dicky with what he’s doing. I mean honestly, if this guy was a real Russian mobster, wouldn’t he at least understand that family-values are family-values and shouldn’t really blame Bryan for going out there and killing his son, considering his son attacked, drugged-up, and captured Bryan’s daughter? I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking about it too much but doesn’t sound like a real mobster to me. Where’s Don Corleone when you need him?

Consensus: Taken 2 is your typical unneeded, stupid, and unintentionally sequel that seems to get pushed-out every couple of times a year, but for this time, it’s actually fun and keeps your eyes moving along with the quick-fire pace at 91 minutes of pure adrenaline fun, and Liam Neeson bad-assery.



The Apparition (2012)

If you think about it too much, you die anyway. So in reality, it doesn’t effin’ matter what you think about. The resolution is always the same.

This is the story of a couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) who are haunted by a supernatural presence that is unleashed during a college experiment, and the fellow student (Tom Felton), who helps them out.

I know I didn’t want to see this movie (even though I did), but to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Warner Bros. wanted anyone to see, either. This has sat on the shelf for over two years, hasn’t had a single trailer or commercial ad that I have seen so far, and nobody has even asked me about it which is strange, since all of my lame-o friends seem to ask me what I think about a new horror movie coming out soon. What’s even weirder is that the film has been screened for only a couple of critics, for a screening that was to be held 4 hours before the film actually came-out. That really shocked me, except for when I actually saw the movie. Now all of the clues finally make sense. This movie, just plain and simply sucks.

This is the feature debut of writer/director Todd Lincoln and to be honest, I sort of feel bad for the dude. It seems like his vision has been tampered with so much because of this being in post-production for over 2 years and whatnot, but I can’t feel that bad since this movie is just god-awful. Honestly, if a horror film is not scary but at least has fun with itself, I’m fine with that, but when I get a horror film like this, that doesn’t even seem to try hard one bit in making us scared or to even have fun with itself, then I’m totally against it. The latter part is exactly what this film is and it doesn’t even seems like it tries at all. Nothing here scared, compelled, or even entertained me for it’s 77 minute time-limit. Instead, I just nodded off, thought about what I would do to save this movie and even went so far as to take out my phone and just text people, asking what they’re plans are for the night. I never do that when I’m in a movie theater, but seeing as this movie totally blew and I had only 2 other people in the lobby with me, I decided to go for it.

It’s sort of sad to see such a film like this not do anything with itself at all, because this film in particular, really seems like it gives up right from the start and just doesn’t even try to liven itself up with any cheap scares one bit. I hate jump-scares, but I don’t think there was one at all throughout this whole film and instead of that, we had slow-burning scenes where the camera would just linger up to the scene of scares, waiting for us to feel the effects of the tension. Problem was, there was absolutely no tension there whatsoever and it just made this flick a whole lot more boring. I think the most tense I was when watching this flick, was the previews that came before it and Taken 2 showed up. That trailer still gets me all of the time. Horror films, when they aren’t good, can be pretty boring, but never THIS boring. Seriously, I was just dozing off at points, whenever I wasn’t texting or day-dreaming and I don’t feel ashamed for it one bit.

Perhaps what makes this film even worse is that the cast does nothing else to keep us watching. Granted, they can’t really do anything with such a script like this unless it’s the likes of Meryl Streep or Marlon Brando acting in it, but they do nothing throughout this whole movie. Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan play the dullest couple I have ever seen in a horror movie, let alone any movie, ever. They really do try but there is no chemistry between them, no sense made as to how the hell they barely talk about any of this bad stuff, and how they even make a living in this big house, when neither of them have heavy-paying jobs that they go to. What also surprised me was how Stan’s character in the beginning, is shown trying to conjurer up the dead, only to have his gal-pal at the time, mysteriously disappear and never to be heard from again, but once all of the freaky shit actually starts to happen, he’s the first to dismiss it as anything else. It’s almost as if the guy forgot he had a girlfriend that was taking by a ghost randomly. I mean plenty of my girlfriends in the past have gotten taken away from me due to ghosts, but I’ve never forgotten about it. Oh well, I guess they must have been going through a real rough patch at the time.

Then, there is Tom Felton who shows up for about 7 minutes throughout the whole movie and I actually wish, showed up more because he brings some excitement to a film that needed some for sure. Felton seems like a kid that can act, if he’s given the right script, but here, he’s given absolute dog shit but makes the best of it so I have to give him that credit. Sadly, he’s barely in the film which means it’s all up to Mr. Stan and Ms. Greene to hold out attention, and that is something they do not do a lick of.

Consensus: The Apparition was destined for disaster right from the start, and a disaster is what it is. With barely any scares, any excitement, any type of fun in this flick at all, we get what is essentially one of the most boring horror films out there, that seems like it should have never, ever been made, even if it was just for the dog days of August.