ON A PICTURESQUE Albanian hillside, ancient trees take deep root, their whispering leaves rich shades of green mottled with vivid reds, oranges, yellows. Autumn is approaching these rocky lands, bringing a chill to the clear sunlight—sunlight that kisses those who have gathered atop this peaceful crest, all of whom carry a heavy, aching sadness. For they are looking at a long row of open graves, and at the bodies within, wrapped in clean, white shrouds. These are the bodies of all the bastards Liam Neeson killed in Taken, and they will be avenged.
Liam Neeson killed all those bastards with good reason: They kidnapped his daughter and tried to sell her into the Eastern European sex trade! Granted, they probably wouldn't have done so if they'd known Liam Neeson is a retired CIA operative, and thus possesses a very particular set of skills: He can find you and he can kill you and he gets angry if anyone tries to sell his daughter into the Eastern European sex trade. So. How many picturesque hillsides does Albania have? Because Liam Neeson will fill them with corpses. All of them.
As Taken 2 begins, Liam Neeson (played by Liam Neeson) is gleefully unconcerned with weeping Albanians, instead focusing on more important things: helping his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), get her driver's license, downin' some brewskis with his buddies, scaring the living shit out of Kim's dipshit boyfriend, and maybe—just maybe—getting back together with Kim's un-fucking-believably hot mom, Lenore (Famke Janssen). Then Liam Neeson, Kim, and Lenore decide to go to Istanbul, because WHAT COULD EVER GO WRONG IN ISTANBUL, and hey, remember those weeping Albanians? EVERYTHING GOES WRONG IN ISTANBUL.
But while this Taken is less focused than the first, it makes up for it with a winking awareness of both its silliness and its straight-up xenophobia. It also features Liam Neeson killing even more bad guys, and an oddly elaborate homage to Drive, and Liam Neeson teaching his daughter how to be a badass instead of a damsel in distress. Liam Neeson is even angrier and cooler now than he was in Taken, and he's still smarter than James Bond (has 007 ever used grenades... as an echolocation device?) and tougher than all the Expendables combined (even when threatened with lethal torture, Liam Neeson totally keeps his cool). True, Liam Neeson can't compete with Jason Bourne's youthful vigor—but if the Taken saga proves anything, it's that vengeance is a dish best served old.
Yes, I did write that line down when it occurred to me about three-quarters of the way through Taken 2. It is my deepest hope that they use it as the tagline for Taken 3.