• Tue, Oct 16 2012

Taken 2′s Bizarre Take On Sexual Politics

Banish your preconceptions about Taken 2, the weekend’s top-grossing sequel to the 2009 hit Taken, starring Liam Neeson as ex-CIA dude Bryan Mills. Surely you remember Bryan, who saved his daughter’s virginity by killing an assortment of swarthy sex traffickers.

Taken 2 opens at the traffickers’ funeral, in a rural Albanian setting where the only women we can see are silent babushka figures who, we surmise, are too cloistered to know about the family business. So yes, this cartoonish thriller, about a virtuous American man pursued by a furious Albanian clan with a terrifying plan, is guilty of ethnic stereotyping. But it’s a lot more interesting than many reviewers led us to believe, and there are times when the Taken franchise (from the Luc Besson action factory) seems like a French author’s mischievous commentary on how Americans see the world.

Neeson’s character sums up the premise of Taken 2 quite nicely when he tells his fetching 19-year-old daughter, played by Maggie Grace: “It’s not you they want, Kim. It’s me.” In other words, it’s not about your sexuality, Kim, it’s about my … particular skills. Anyone who has ever been a 19-year-old girl seeking independence and sexual experience might be forgiven for thinking Taken 2 is a metaphoric fantasia about Dad’s deepest journey into denial.

Taken 2 is a family-friendly PG-13 action caper that wants to be about violence. “Good luck,” as one of the sex traffickers told Bryan in the previous film. Despite all the killing and the vehicular mayhem, sexual issues are at the heart of this sequel. Bryan’s anxiety about his daughter’s sexual autonomy is established almost immediately.

Bryan, who aspires grudgingly to a more liberal style of fatherhood, has a very specific set of hang-ups getting in the way of that. He doesn’t even trust Jamie, Kim’s dweebish, deferential boyfriend, played by Luke Grimes. After the harrowing events in Taken, all guys are potential suspects when it comes to his daughter. In real life, we would say that Jamie should be suspicious of Bryan, since his girlfriend’s dad has followed her to his home by secretly installing a device in her phone. While Kim’s quest for privacy is the norm, she quickly forgives her father’s snooping.

If Bryan and Kim were, let’s just say, Albanians, this behavior would look sociopathic and tribal. Since they’re white folks living in Los Angeles, they seem merely codependent.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Beast. Go here to read the rest.

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  • bggatbdl

    Best line in that movie: “Go to the U.S. Embassy. You’ll be safe there.”

    • c_taylor

      Yes, funny. Before a business trip I was advised by an old-hand globetrotting expat that if I got into any real trouble overseas to go to the BRITISH embassy… that as an American ‘cousin’ the British would competently help me out just as if I was one of their own. The American embasssy, he warned me, would be just as likely to be useless, indifferent and/or incompetent as they would helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.tinder.73 Mark Tinder

    I don’t know. Given what the protagonist went through in the first movie, it would certainly seem plausible (without the need to devolve into Freudian psycho-babble) that the father would keep particularly close tabs on his daughter.

  • Agim Zabeli

    Sexual politics? If you say so. I thought the two most interesting points in the movie were:

    1. How does a private American citizen get on a plane to Istanbul with grenades in his luggage?

    2. Why couldn’t the bad guys have been Serbians or something? Between the two movies, how many Albanians can there be left to shoot?

    • Bob

      maybe they breed like Fruit Flies – you know, like 25 generations per year !

    • cas127

      “How does a private American citizen get on a plane to Istanbul with grenades in his luggage?”

      The same way some guy got on a plane with a bomb in his shoe…

    • hedge

      Incompetence of the TSA…of course.

  • Tanuki Man

    Holy crap are you way overthinking this.

    • comatus

      No, just overQuantifying.
      In moderan life there aren’t any “bad guys.”
      Just guys — who are, by definition, bad.

  • cas127

    This article’s logic is more tortured than the electrocuted Albanian in Taken 1 – and the author knew it – that is why the the remainder of the piece is tossed off in a sloppy rush.

    This is the worst sort of click bait = TheGloss goes on my “Don’t Bother With” list.

  • beast

    The elephant in the room-the villains are muslims.Sorry but true.Not some “swarthy dudes”

  • hedge

    Wow, you were really pressed to find something to write, weren’t you, Tracy…

  • http://twitter.com/LyssaLR Lyssa R

    I haven’t seen the 2nd movie, but I just saw the first a couple of weeks ago. This statement from the article was extremely disturbing: “Surely you remember Bryan, who saved his daughter’s virginity by killing an assortment of swarthy sex traffickers.”
    While it was briefly mentioned that the daughter was a virgin (at least, according to her older friend; we had no reason to believe that her dad had any idea either way), it was in no way relevant to the issue. It seems here as if the author is suggesting that saving someone from being sold into sex slavery is only an issue if they’re a virgin – that the dad shouldn’t have had an issue with it if he’d just stop trying to control her sexuality so much. What a bizzare interpretation!