It seems clear to me that Luc Besson in his Hollywood-era has the same formula for his films, Taken 2 is no exception. No matter what genre he writes, produces or directs, Taken 2 has the usual hallmarks of a Luc Besson Film: hyper-kinetic editing and camera work, guns galore and interesting philosophical themes. Olivier Megaton (yes, that's the director's name and it's more a good hand grenade than an H-bomb) is obviously one of his disciples.
Taken 2 has the usual Luc Besson hyper-kinetic camera work, with fast editing and fight scenes that are the best in the industry, bizarre angles, flashbacks and the use of focus to create the effect of disorientation you would experience when abducted by people out for your blood after you killed the son of the man who abducted your daughter. This can be confusing, especially if you're a thirteen year old with juvenile dementia and a sugar high after eating Viagra spiked pixie sticks, but it really heightens the story where motivations are morally ambiguous and the ends justify the means. Besson's script is highly dependent on this fast editing and fast cutting as a narrative device and Megaton's direction is adequate for keeping the audience on the edge of their seats, but it allows for the themes of the film to be overlooked by less thoughtful viewers.
Kim, Bryan Mills' (the protagonist, played by Liam Neeson) daughter, was abducted in the previous installment and, as history repeats itself, He and his wife, Lenora are abducted by the people who want revenge on him for killing the gang who abducted seven girls for what I suspect is a paedophile vice ring. Okay, it sounds formulaic, but revenge dramas from Hamlet to Taken 2 are. As it comes down to Kim to rescue them, it brings up the key theme of filial piety. If she loves her family, she must rescue her parents. It seems obvious, but it seems that Besson and Megaton's message is the family that slays together, stays together.
If people are out to get revenge, you, like Kim, do what your dad tells you. Even if that means using grenades to give the impression of your location, but the ending is somewhat contrived as any Hollywood ending you can get: They're in a Los Angeles diner that is as kitsch as they come and eating sundaes as a happy family. Like I say, if you slay together, you stay together. I even wonder whether this was to appease the religious right and gloss over Besson's more controversial moments, such as the fact that the gang were Albanian Muslims, as established in the opening scenes and Matilda in Leon .
Indeed, the themes of revenge and justice are central to the film, but in the final scenes this is questioned when Bryan Mills refuses to kill the leader of the gang (No, Gary, not you) and tells him that he has a choice of leaving and enjoying his sons or dying at Mills hand and killing them when they strike back. It does challenge the nature of vengeance and where family loyalties are the centre of what moral choices we make. It does deflate the idea that a family who slays together, stays together, but it does it in a twist that is as formulaic as Hollywood gets. It feels like a convention to "put in plot twist here", but Mills kills him with his bare hands. Again, this is a Luc Besson convention you would expect from him.
In all, it's a good ninety minutes of escapism and has the usual ingredients of Monsieur Besson's work, but it does seem somewhat generic given that it was directed by Megaton. It's more of a good hand grenade than an atomic bomb, as I've said, but it maybe all you need to escape a bad day at work. That's if you don't think about it too much.