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Soundtrack review: Taken 2 (Nathaniel Mechaly – 2012)

The first “Taken” movie had such an appeal that we got a sequel. Liam Neeson is back as the action hero and this time he’s fighting the families of the bad guys he killed in the first movie. Nathaniel Mechaly was back to score this second one and I was very curious how it would turn out.

I really loved the ambient piano and string parts from the first score and this made me impatient to get more of them in the second score. I don’t have to wait long since “Kim and Jamie’s car” and “Bryan waiting for Lenore” bring back that sweet and reflective sound. I am again dreaming while looking at the moon’s reflection in a lake. And these two were just the prelude for “Kim and Bryan on the Bosphorus” which instantly becomes my favorite track from both “Taken” scores so far. There’s so much love and care in this theme; each note echoes somewhere inside me and finds familiar places. I was made for a piece like this and I just get lost in it for 15-20 minutes, carefully taking in all the emotion.

The dream is interrupted by the usual pursuits only this time I connect with them better than I did the first time around. “Pursuit in the Souk” is gritty and alert and I can physically feel claustrophobic, smashing against the walls of that narrow market. “Taken 2” flows better than “Taken” and this time the score tells a coherent story. The themes don’t stumble anymore and I can easily follow the thread. The suspense is more gripping (just listen to “In the van”) and the music makes me care, worry, be afraid, gasp for air. I also appreciate the subtle Eastern string inserts which remind me that the movie takes place in Istanbul.

The bad guys aren’t treated superficially either. Every time Murad appears, the music is heavy and meaningful as if to somehow justify his actions and make us understand that he’s not coming after Bryan’s family for nothing. There’s a part in “Murad faces Bryan” (the final 30 seconds) that just breaks my heart with gorgeous and heavy strings. The emotional feast continues with “Searching for Leonore”. This search isn’t frantic and desperate; instead it’s careful and almost elegiac.

An exciting musical story like “Taken 2” could only end in a spectacular fashion. I guess I praised the emotional moments too much because action comes back with a vengeance in two exhilarating final themes… ”Fight in the Hammam” is an epic buildup cue which leaves any electronic pulses behind and just goes all orchestral while “Death or Murad” brings on a hail of Oriental strings to send off the inconsolable villain. Here I go changing again my favorite theme from the franchise… I haven’t resonated this way with a theme since “Ava’s arms” from “Lord of war”. What a rush…

“Taken 2” was a few steps up from “Taken” both in emotional weight and action excitement and proves once again my theory that almost every time the second score from a franchise is better than the first. The first one has the nostalgia of the beginning but it’s the second one that really develops the themes. Can’t wait to hear the third one!

Cue rating: 91 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 20 / 28

Album excellence: 70%

Highlights:

Kim and Jamie’s Car

Bryan Waiting for Leonore

Kim and Bryan On the Bosphorus

Murad Arrives

Pursuit in the Souk

Bryan and Leonore Are Taken

In the Van

Murad Faces Bryan

Searching for Leonore

Fight in the Hammam

Death of Murad

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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