Taken 2

(R) ★★☆☆☆

This sequel is so much lousier than it needs to be, largely due to a director in over his head. Extending a work trip to vacation with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daughter (Maggie Grace), Liam Neeson’s ex-CIA op, Brian Mills, is kidnapped and held captive in a hellhole by murderous Albanians. There is no film without Neeson shooting, stabbing, strangling, and mixed martial arts-ing dozens of Albanians who want him dead, want his ex-wife dead, and want his daughter as a sex slave. The action is a headache, and even Neeson can’t save this one.

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By Geoff Carter

IL RITORNO: “Come back, come back, Madonna … We still need you,” cries an old Italian man at the end of the video for “Open Your Heart.” I love that bit because the old man’s scripted outburst speaks to a larger cultural truth. Every time we open ourselves up to a singer who resembles her—Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Robyn … say when—it’s like a little prayer for Madonna’s return, and she keeps coming back, even though she really doesn’t have to.

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