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Taken 2 trailer tempers the action with a hint of moral ambiguity

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Liam Neeson's very particular set of skills is back, this time joined by just a soupcon of deconstructionism...

A little bit of reflection for Liam Neeson in 'Taken 2' (2012)?

The first trailer for the sequel to the dark yet thrilling cult hit Taken, that turned Liam Neeson into a bona fide, incredibly credible action hero, is here:

There's a brief exchange in the trailer, ending with:

Maggie Grace: "What are you going to do?"

Liam Neeson: "What I do best."

Interestingly, this is reminiscent of Wolverine's signature line in the comics, "I'm the best there is at what I do...but what I do isn't very nice." Perhaps this is a deliberate thematic parallel, in line with the hints towards a slightly more deconstructionist approach in this instalment of the Taken franchise; or perhaps not. At any rate, it brings to mind the cool notion that if Hugh Jackman ever retires from the role, Liam Neeson could play Wolverine. The point about Wolverine is that he goes after the bad guys, they hurt him, he heals, and he just keeps on going. So he's battle-ready, resilient, and essentially unstoppable. Just like the action hero Liam Neeson.

The bad guys are obviously evil, but like with Loki in The Avengers, they're also partly right. They want revenge for the deaths of their family and friends, which is wrong. Even though their family and friends started it, Liam Neeson's character killed them partly out of revenge and vindictiveness.

Hopefully over the course of the film, Liam Neeson will not just defeat the bad guys and save his family, but also learn the importance of restraint, and maybe even forgiveness.

Maybe Taken needs Taken 2, in order to, in a way, answer elements of the former film, like with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan needing Star Trek III: The Search for Spock to counter "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one." with "The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many."

The trailer presents the movie cliché of bad guys being stupid. Okay, they’re upset, but do they not realise they’re messing with Qui-Gon Jinn (who’s also Liam Neeson from the first Taken film) and Dark Phoenix? I mean, hello, how do you think this will end? (Interestingly, despite being Dark Phoenix, Famke Janssen didn’t do any actual fighting in the first film. Nor did Liam Neeson in Battleship, for that matter.)

Perhaps the film’s supposed to be some kind of socio-political metaphor for contemporary conflicts. Wrong is met by wrong is met by wrong, and so on and so forth, in an ongoing vendetta of ouchiness. Though that perspective is arguably an oversimplification. Moral equivalence isn’t always the most helpful way of looking at things. Though the ends don’t justify the means.

Maybe the Taken films are designed as propaganda to make Liam Neeson into a credible deterrent. If a bad guy pops up and starts trying to do something bad, all they have to do is get Liam Neeson to phone him up and mention his “very particular set of skills”. Unless the guy hasn’t seen Taken (“Sorry, must have missed that one. Too busy scheming and stuff. You know how it is.”), in which case Liam Neeson will have to be like, “You can walk away now, and we’ll forget all about this. Or if you continue with this course of action, I will hunt you down, I will find you, and I will sit you down and watch Taken with you. And then I’ll repeat my speech from the movie… (Also, no autographs.)”

The trailer features a scene of a happy family reunion, which seems strange in the context of these characters in this world. Under normal circumstances, it would be good, but we know that this is not what the film is about. And so do the filmmakers, it seems, given the action that follows. However, if somewhere down the line they forget this, we may get Taken 4 being 2 hours of a happy, carefree family reunion, with no danger or violence or darkness whatsoever. That would be an example of a trilogy that took it too far. Unless it were a crossover with The Muppets; in which case, awesome. Most things crossing over with The Muppets would be awesome. Except Quentin Tarantino, because that scares Kermit.

Empire Online


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