8:00 PM, 24th November, 2012
Taken was a surprising film - not only was it an above-average action thrill ride, it brought us a new, and unexpected, badass action hero in the form of Liam Neeson. In fact if there was one lesson that Taken taught all of us, it was this... don't @^#& with Liam Neeson. All of us, that is, except for those associated with kidnapping his daughter in the first film, who apparently didn't learn their lesson at all.
In the course of rescuing his daughter, ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Neeson), killed one or two of the criminals responsible for her kidnapping (sorry, should that have had a spoiler alert?). The angry father of one of the kidnappers, aided by his son's former associates, is now out for revenge. Seeing his opportunity, he takes Bryan and his wife (Janssen) hostage while Bryan is working security in Istanbul. And so once again Bryan must save his family the only way he knows how - going badass and killing everybody.
As with the first film, this is Luc Besson's baby. Ostensibly it has a different director, but Besson's guiding hand is present here just as it was in the original. Taken 2 isn't nearly as surprising as the first, but it was never going to be - we know what to expect now, so come along and jump on for another great ride.
9:47 PM, 24th November, 2012
Barnes: "What are you gonna do?"
McClane: "Whatever I can."
Die Hard 2 is the 1990 follow-up to the classic action/thriller Die Hard. Under the tagline 'Die Harder', this instalment sees Bruce Willis return as John McClane, an off-duty New York cop who is once again thrust into life-threatening action when a mercenary group takes control of an entire airport. Demanding the release of a foreign dictator captured by the US army, the group shuts down all runway lights, leaving the planes stranded in the air and running out of fuel. It's up to John to stop the mercenaries and regain control of the airport, lest the plane carrying his wife come crashing down.
The film takes just a few minutes to set the scene before plunging right into the relentless parade of shootouts, stunt work, explosions and hair-raising tension - it never lets up, carrying its hero from frying pan to fire and back again, including through one of the most spectacular (and shocking) crash scenes in cinema. Bruce Willis is fantastic as the most persistent hero in history, enduring one gruelling ordeal after another. The villain doesn't leave as strong an impression as Hans Gruber from the first film, and the plot stretches credibility at many points, but there are enough surprises as the third act unfolds to carry the film to a gripping and satisfying climax.
Put simply, Die Hard 2 is pure entertainment, and essential viewing for any action fan.