'Taken' sequel is one too many

Taken, about a former CIA operative who rescues his teenage daughter from sadistic sex-trade traffickers, was a surprise hit in 2009. Its appeal, apart from a straightforward, unpretentious approach to otherwise pedestrian material, was Liam Neeson.

As Taken's protagonist, Bryan Mills, he infused an otherwise by-the-numbers procedural with an ineffable, highly appealing blend of Celtic soul and 6-foot-4 heft.

But the sequel, Taken 2, is every bit as clumsy, ham-handed, outlandish and laughable as the original was sleek, tough and efficient.

Taken 2 finds Bryan back in Los Angeles, teaching his daughter to drive and gazing wistfully at his ex-wife. When Bryan travels to Istanbul on business, circumstances conspire to bring his daughter and ex-wife there, too. Soon, all three are caught up in a nasty web of kidnapping, torture and revenge by earlier vanquished Albanian bad guys.

It's a perfectly acceptable setup, but Taken 2 seems more invested in going through the motions than raising its own bar.

Extras include an alternative ending (20 additional minutes), a special effects featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: there's an additional unrated cut; "Black Ops Field Manual" and "kill counter," Tools of the Trade featurette, and deleted and extended scenes.


These DVDs also were released this week:

New movies: To Rome With Love; The Intouchables; Won't Back Down; The Possession; Farewell, My Queen; Allegiance; Detropia; 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity With the Devil Inside the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; Branded; 17 Girls; The Other Dream Team; I Am Bruce Lee; Battle for Brooklyn.

Older films: The Tin Drum: Criterion Collection (1979); The Bishop's Wife (1947); The Man Who Knew Too Much: Criterion Collection (1934).

TV: Cupid; Merlin: The Complete Fourth Season; Men of a Certain Age: The Complete Second Season; Life's Too Short: The Complete First Season; Bill Moyers: Becoming American; Being Human: Season 4; The Amazing World of Gumball: The Mystery; Thomas & Friends: Muddy Matters.

Other: Joan Rivers: Don't Start With Me; Harland Williams: A Force of Nature.