In the original thriller, Kim (Maggie Grace), the daughter of former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) was abducted in Paris by Albanian sex traffickers, and he went on a one-man rescue mission.
As this sequel begins, Bryan and his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) are divorced. They share custody of teenage Kim, who is not only trying to get her driver's license for the third time but has also found her first boyfriend.
When Lenore confides that she's having marital problems and her new husband has canceled their family vacation, Bryan impulsively invites his ex-wife and daughter to meet him in Istanbul, ostensibly to tour the exotic sites along the Bosphorus, including the Suleymaniye Mosque and Grand Bazaar. So that's where Bryan and Lenore are snatched by swarthy, revenge-seeking Albanians, led by bitter tribal chief, Murad Krasniqi (Croatian actor Rade Sherbedgia), who has vowed diabolical vengeance against Mills for the death of his gangster son.
Under the supervision of French producer Luc Besson, who co-wrote the script with Robert Mark Kamen, director Oliver Megaton ("Columbiana," "Transporter 3") has young Kim escaping capture, adroitly scampering over Turkish rooftops and tossing grenades, following specific telephoned directions from her calm, remarkably resourceful father while he is being held captive and her blindfolded, bleeding mother is repeatedly threatened with sharp knives. Sound implausible and absurd? It is. But that's topped by the reckless car chase with inexperienced Kim driving a stolen taxi through the crowded souk, crashing into pursuing police cars, while her father shoots the bad guys who follow them all the way to the gates of the American Embassy.
What's most remarkable is how hulking, 6-foot-4, 60-year-old actor Liam Neeson (acclaimed for "Schindler's List" and "Kinsey") has become a full-fledged action hero. Next thing you know, he'll have joined the "Expendables" crew, alongside Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Taken 2" is a generic, mind-numbing 4, leaving the door wide open for another, perhaps inevitable installment.