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Taken 2

1,502 words

In Taken, Liam Neeson fought to restore the patriarchy. In Taken 2, he fights the Clash of Civilizations.

Neeson’s Bryan Mills returns in this utterly unnecessary but moderately enjoyable sequel to 2008’s surprising action hit. Interestingly, the film begins from a perspective that action movies rarely explore — that of the normally faceless villains. Murad, the father of one of the murdered Albanian sex traffickers from the last film, stands over the graves of his son and his comrades in Tropojë, Albania. An imam gives a blessing and Murad swears bloody vengeance against the man who killed their brothers and sons.

Meanwhile, Bryan, still divorced, is sitting outside his ex-wife’s house in the uniquely degrading ritual of the modern single father, waiting to see his child. His liberated ex-wife, whom he did not pay enough attention to during his career, is separating from her new husband because he canceled a family vacation to China. Apparently, grrl power notwithstanding, even that second marriage on your life schedule can pose some problems. Bryan chivalrously but awkwardly listens to her marital woes, parting from her with a hesitant touch that communicates he’s never moved on from having his family stolen.

Their daughter Kim is with her new boyfriend Jamie, a skinny-armed and unshaven little nonentity who stands around looking nonthreatening. Mercifully, he’s not completely worthless, taking care to greet Kim’s father with respect and offering a gentlemanly handshake, only to be greeted with a scowl. After the events of the last film, Kim isn’t so foolish as to be angry at her father for being overprotective, but having your father insert a GPS into your cell phone does cross the boundary of normality.

Bryan offers to have his ex-wife and daughter join him in Istanbul after he is finished guarding an Arab VIP. They surprise him in the Turkish capital, but unfortunately, so do the Albanians.

Liam Neeson caused a minor news bump when he remarked on the glories of filming in a Muslim country during development. He described the Muslims’ call to prayer as a beautiful experience and revealed that he was even considering converting to Islam. While Neeson was undoubtedly sincere, such pronouncements may have been necessary to rebut the inevitable charges of xenophobia and racism accompanied the first installment. Make no mistake, the film is Islamophobic.

The Mills family stays in a beautiful hotel with a picturesque view of Istanbul, but the audience can’t help but notice the blood red and Islamic crescent of the Turkish flag draped triumphantly over the conquered Hagia Sophia. Simply acknowledging this as an example of my own prejudice would be fair except that all the members of the criminal gang have the same crescent on their hands, as the movie takes care to illustrate with dramatic close shots.

For much of the film, murderous criminals with the crescent tattoo chase the Westerners through the streets with innumerable Turkish flags flying in the background. The message is clear that this is what it means to be a foreigner, to have no power within a society and to be forced to regard every person and institution as hostile.

Somehow, the entire Ummah seems to unite against the Mills family. Turkey apparently shares a border with Albania now, as gangsters simply drive into the country with the approval of the border police. Murad obtains information from people within the country in an office featuring Albanian flags. Is this an embassy? A local businessman? We are never told. Government involvement is quite possible, as Tropojë is notorious for being a wild, violent region founded by the clan claimed by the current Prime Minister of Albania.

The Turkish police don’t seem to do much other than chase the Mills family and it is implied that at least some elements of the police and hotel staff are in league with the gangsters. The women wear burqas (in Turkey?) and all of the men are fat, sweaty, unattractive, and unshaven wogs in track suits who are impossible to tell apart and exist only to watch football and smoke. Liam Neeson manages to mow down dozens of these stereotypes, though without the ferocity and brutality familiar from the first film. When explaining his attack, Murad tells Bryan that he had killed “sons and brothers” as if there were just “nothings.” In this film, that’s all they are, as other than Murad, none seem to even have a personality.

Bryan and his ex-wife are eventually “taken!” and imprisoned. Murad than leaves Bryan completely alone for some reason, allowing him to easily break out of his handcuffs, save his wife’s life, and take out a room full of Muslims. He helps his daughter locate him through the improbable plan of having her throw grenades around the city as he listens for the sound. The Turks don’t seem to mind this too much, as Kim blows up a car from her hotel balcony without security (who are literally just outside her room) so much as noticing.

She and her father manage to escape both Albanian gangsters and the Turkish police in a drawn out car chase involving the required crashing through fruit carts and “beating out the train at the last minute” scene. They make it to the American embassy where they will be safe, a bastion of Western order in the midst of this Muslim chaos. Once Bryan and Kim arrive there, an entire detachment of United States Marines is somehow unable to stop them from driving onto the embassy grounds, though in light of recent events in Libya this basic incompetence actually seems realistic.

Having invaded an embassy, dropped grenades all over Istanbul, and murdered a staggering number of Albanian gangsters (and even a Turkish police officer), somehow Bryan is allowed to simply leave the embassy after making a phone call to one of his friends in government. Armed (naturally), he uses his skills to retrace his steps and locate the gangsters who still have his wife. After disposing of the other criminals, Bryan Mills finally confronts Murad. He tells him he will spare his life if Murad renounces any further claims of vengeance and tells his sons to do the same. Murad agrees. Bryan drops his gun and Murad promptly picks it up and tries to shoot Bryan in the back. As you may have guessed, Bryan removed the bullets. He kills Murad and once again saves his family.

Three weeks later, the happy family is united for milkshakes along with Kim’s boyfriend. “Don’t kill this one Dad,” she says playfully, and everyone laughs. Presumably, Bryan may even get his wife back.

Needless to say, the professionally offended are horrified about the portrayal of a father who takes responsibility for his wife and child. Taken 2 was produced by a French company even as the new Socialist government of the Republic moves to replace the term “father” with “Parent 1.” Always alert for signs of anything out of step with approved beliefs, The Daily Beast dug up a former hooker who writes books about hookers to complain about the patriarchal fantasies of men defending their daughters (presumably because they don’t want their daughters to be hookers.)

Despite leftist rage, the refreshingly reactionary sexual politics were more frank in the first installment. In Taken, Neeson’s Bryan Mills transformed from beta to alpha over the course of the first film, displacing the Semitic materialism of his ex-wife’s new lover with the Aryan warrior virtues of an old-fashioned father and husband.

In this film, the cultural clash is the main conflict. Bryan is at war with an entire way of life which puts honor and vengeance above everything else, even common sense. When he makes a typically modern plea to stop the killing, it doesn’t come off as weak but as a sincere attempt of a “tired” man to cease pointless bloodshed. Murad rejects it and dies for it, but his other sons are still out there, ready to continue the war.

Before the carnage begins, Bryan and Kim enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Bosporus. Bryan notes that on one side of the strait is Europe and one is Asia, and that all the great conquests from East to West or West to East made this crossing. The Mills family is playing tourist in conquered Constantinople, and they barely escape with their lives.

As the first film shows, the enemy is forming colonies even within the Western heartland, and law enforcement is unable or unwilling to stop them. The crossing has been made, the borders are shifting, and even though Liam Neeson saves the day this time (was there every any doubt?), there’s no reason to believe the battle won’t continue. Bryan Mills wants to leave violence in the past, but Murad’s sons still live and might return for (God help us) Taken 3. 

The West wants a peace so it can pursue pleasure and entertainment at the End of History. Taken 2 shows that the war will continue regardless, even if only one side wants to keep fighting.


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  1. rhondda
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    My Father told me to watch out for men. I wonder why he would say that? Enough said.

  2. Posted October 18, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I had no interest in seeing these films before I read this. Now I do. Thanks.

  3. Posted October 18, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Mr Hood, please consider reviewing some of Nicolas Winding Refn’s work. His “Valhalla Rising” and “Drive” have much to offer the New Right cinephile.

    • rhondda
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good idea.

    • denikin
      Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      I agree on Drive, but Valhalla Rising? The main character (a Viking) butchers countless White people throughout the film but when he confronts non-White natives he doesn’t touch them and in fact lets himself get killed by them via sacrifice. To me that’s anti-White.

      • Posted October 19, 2012 at 4:58 am | Permalink

        Valhalla Rising is a powerful allegory of heathen virtue. One-Eye (Odin) sacrifices himself to the New World so that the Boy may live. A Norse god exiting the material plane to enter the soul of a child. Amerindians are correctly portrayed as beasts. Christians are implied to be worshipping an alien god. One-Eye/Odin defeats the heretics.

      • Gregory Hood
        Posted October 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Will definitely do something on this movie as soon as I can get to it, as well as other representations of heathen belief in film.

  4. JPLex
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Hollywood has certain rules.
    1. Never, ever portrait a Jew or even worse, Israel, in a bad light.
    2. Always, without exception, portrait all muslims as terrorists, and even better, as bad, bad people.
    3. White people are portraited as bad parents, selfish, men abusing women. White women need to move to Jew-led cities, where they, at last, get rid of bad, bad, white men.
    4. Racial mixing is very much portraited as a good thing, but you never, ever see a Jew marrying a black guy/woman. However, you see many, many happy white guys living with black women.
    5. Countryside is always backwards, poor, full of people, who are basically stupid and bad. Even in classics, the women are invariably wanting to leave to big (Jewish led) cities, like Jew York.

    All in all, happiness lives with Jews, and bad things live with Whites and Muslims.

    There you are: SpielbergLand.

    Live with it.

    • Posted October 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like the world of Liberal Villages I describe in my Counter Currents essay, “The Gilmore Girls Occupy Wall Street.”

      In my CC essay on The Big Chill I note that Jeff Goldblum is a rare, and probably never again seen, portrait of a Jew as a jerk/loser/creep.

      Both essays appear in my new book, The Homo and the Negro.

  5. Posted October 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    “When he makes a typically modern plea to stop the killing, it doesn’t come off as weak but as a sincere attempt of a “tired” man to cease pointless bloodshed.”

    From The Untouchables:

    Malone [wearily, after crook stops running when Malone fires machine gun] “Enough of this running shit.”

    Ness [wearily, cleaning out his desk at the end] : “So much violence.”

    See my CounterCurrents essay on The Untouchables, reprinted in my book, The Homo and the Negro.

  6. Edmund Connelly
    Posted October 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating, Gregory. We have both written about the same film. And when I followed your link to the first “Taken,” I was surprised to see that Peter Bradley had also written about the series. In fact, he beat me to the punch: My review was published on TOO in Dec. 2010, while Mr. Bradley’s was in August, I believe.

    Both he and you note the Semitic spirit behind the rich second husband. Agreed.

    In my review, I delved more into the Jewish aspects of the film and of Hollywood more largely. See:

    I was also more specific about the “projection” going on in the film:

    Now think about that: “Every year hundreds of women, and an unknown number of girls under the age of 18, are bought, sold, drugged, imprisoned, and forced to work as prostitutes in Israel’s thriving sex industry.” Then compare it to the plot-line of Taken, where two girls under the age of 18 are kidnapped, drugged, imprisoned and readied for sale to the highest bidder.

    Since C-C and TOO writers are working on such similar fare, we should try to cross-pollinate even more.

    BTW, I doubt I’ll watch “Taken 2.” Sounds just too depressing.

  7. Lew
    Posted October 21, 2012 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    I decided to watch Taken earlier tonight (not Taken 2). I thought it was a pretty good film. It was a straightforward depiction of heroism based on a father’s love for his daughter, with a lot of making the bad guys pay. You have to suspend disbelief, of course, though not as much as you do with Crank. (Crank is another highly entertaining tear of maiming and killing featuring Jason Statham, except there is no heroism. Everyone is a low life. )

    I found myself wondering how much truth there is to the depiction of Albanian sex trafficking in Taken. The girls are kidnapped, isolated in a sex slave farm, pumped full of heroin, and then sold to wealthy Arabs. Chilling stuff if true.

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