Liam Neeson Is The Most Valuable Asset For 'Taken 2'

At a beefy 6'4", Liam Neeson, the star of Taken 2, certainly looks physically imposing, but he can also act. The counter-intuitive notion of casting someone who can be human and vulnerable as an action hero is what made the first Taken so watchable.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The action "Taken 2" comes to theaters this weekend. And once again it stars Liam Neeson. Although critic Kenneth Turan says "Taken 2" is less a sequel than a remake.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: The original "Taken" played all over the world, but it apparently went unseen in one remote corner of Albania. That's the home of a group of men who feel compelled to menace Liam Neeson and his family one more time in "Taken 2." Talk about slow learners.

As those who did see the first film know, ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills, played by Neeson, is a virtuoso of violence. He embraces murderous moves the way politicians take to verbal evasiveness.

Bullets can't seem to find him, knives miss their marks, martial artists flail away in vain. When Mills says he's going to do what I do best, it's not macramé he's talking about. When Mills, ex-wife Lenore and daughter Kim head for Istanbul, the Albanians find out about the trip immediately. Before you can say blood oath, a trio of vans packed with sinister guys who have not smiled since glasnost is headed to Istanbul with vengeance on their minds.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TAKEN 2")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He's here. I want all three of them alive.

TURAN: Even after Mills is taken by the Albanians, he still finds a way to call his daughter. She turns out to be his secret weapon, developing into a more than capable assistant once her dad has given her a telephone pep talk.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TAKEN 2")

LIAM NEESON: (as Bryan Mills) Kim, listen to me very carefully. The men who came for you, did they leave?

MAGGIE GRACE: (as Kim Mills) Yes. Tell me what to do.

TURAN: Liam Neeson remains "Taken 2's" most valuable asset. At a beefy 6-foot-4, the star certainly looks physically imposing, but he can also actually act. The counter-intuitive notion of casting someone who can be human and vulnerable as an action hero is what made the first "Taken" so watchable.

This is one sequel that knows enough not to mess with success.

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MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the LA Times.

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MONTAGNE: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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