Yeah, “Taken 2” is pretty much the same movie that “Taken” was. Like its predecessor, it’s preposterous and over-the-top.

And, boy, is this actioner ever just plain fun.

“Taken,” upon its release in 2009, was a surprise hit. The studio naturally took notice … and a franchise (I hope, I think) was born.

As you may remember, Liam Neeson starred as Bryan Mills in the first movie. Bryan, an ex-CIA agent, wasn’t around enough for his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, who reprises her role here). He also had an uncomfortable relationship with his teenage daughter Kim (Maggie Grace again), who was pretty much wooed by the extravagance of Lenore’s new love interest and all of the material things he could provide her.

Bryan missed both his wife and daughter terribly, so “Taken” was all the more interesting because of the great lengths he went to track down Kim, who was a human trafficking victim. Bryan deftly dispatched her kidnappers.

Now, Bryan, who has a better relationship with Kim because he’s teaching her to drive, is headed for Turkey on assignment. But the father of one of the kidnappers, Murad Krasniqi (Rade Serbedzija), seeks revenge for his son’s death.

Lenore is on the outs with her new man, so when Bryan asks her to bring Kim to Istanbul, she considers it. Bryan ends up going alone and collecting a wallet full of money for his trouble. He is then surprised by his ex-wife and daughter. Kim, in an effort to play matchmaker, stays at the hotel while Bryan and Lenore go off together.

Problem is, Krasniqi spots them. He wants to take in the whole family and kill them, but he is successful only in capturing Bryan and Lenore. Meanwhile, Bryan cleverly figures out his location despite the fact he is blindfolded and stays in touch with Kim, who carefully follows his instructions so she can find him.

Awhile back, I liked “The Hangover 2,” even though it was really just a rehash of the original “Hangover” movie. I feel the same way about this actioner. It’s very much like the first movie, but I like the way it unfolds so much that I don’t care.

Neeson is a joy to watch. He’s an intelligent tough guy who seems just about on the brink of imploding with rage … but he never loses control. The setups and solutions are preposterous, but they’re fun to watch.

I can’t wait to be taken to the third installment.


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