When a somewhat under-the-radar movie breaks out in a big way, it's natural for producers to go back to the well and make a sequel. The problem is when this happens with a movie that wasn't really left open-ended. So with Taken 2, as with The Hangover 2, you get a lot of characters saying what the audience is: variations on "I can't believe this is happening again!" But calling it out doesn't excuse it.
So: In Taken 2, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) invites his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) to visit him as he wraps up a bodyguard job in Istanbul. Unbeknownst to him, the head of the criminal organization he basically murdered his way through in Taken is pissed about Bryan's having killed his son (or sons, maybe? — it's all a blur), and even though the reason Bryan was even able to decimate the guy's cohorts in the first movie is that he's exceptionally good at recovering kidnap victims, the crime boss decides to ... kidnap Lenore and Kim. Only you can decide which of these elements of the movie is least believable: that the crime boss (Rade Sherbedgia) thinks he's going to best Bryan with his remaining JV squad of henchmen; that Bryan (played by an Irishman) and Lenore (played by a Dutchwoman) are American; that Kim (played by a 29-year-old) is just now trying for her driver's license.
New and Notable
To Rome With Love
If you can roll with the casting of tomboyish Ellen Page as an irresistible sex bomb, and the casting of Jesse Eisenberg as a young Alec Baldwin, you may like this. I recommend fast-forwarding the Roberto Benigni story line, which I wish I could've done at the cinema.
Won't Back Down
The original tagline of this movie was "BOOOOOOOOO, TEACHERS' UNIONS." At least, it might as well have been.
The House I Live In
Documentarian Eugene Jarecki takes on the war on drugs.
Farewell, My Queen
This look at the last days of Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger) suggests that she might have been gay, so if you want to spend some time watching Kruger canoodling with Virginie Ledoyen and Léa Seydoux, this is the movie for you.
An aspiring young boxer has his career path derailed by incarceration. Danny Trejo is in it, but does not play said young boxer.
It Boy Chris Messina stirs up his old friends' lives when he comes back to town for a funeral.
A former French mercenary leads a force against an outpost in Algeria.
Cherry Tree Lane
Near as I can tell, this is basically a British Funny Games.
A documentary about the decline of Detroit, from the directors of Jesus Camp.
Opportunistic Backlist Revival of the Week: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is no longer the governor of California, he's free to serve the American people in another way: by making movies with Johnny Knoxville. And with The Last Stand hitting theaters, we get this collection of past Schwarzenegger hits like Total Recall (the original), The Running Man, Conan the Barbarian, Raw Deal, both Terminator and its first sequel, Judgment Day, and my sentimental favorite: Commando.
"In Theaters" VOD Picks
The Mulberry Tree
Joe Morton plays a convicted murderer trying to redeem himself before he dies.
Weird Indie of the Week
"What if there was a code in your mind that controlled your desires?" And what if the movie about it starred Leelee Sobieski?
Lauren Holly plays a "real estate tycoon" who gets kidnapped into a sex-trafficking ring. Lauren Holly's new face co-stars.