Archive for the Complete Waste of Time Category

TAKEN 2 (2012)

Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Complete Waste of Time, Doomed Tourists, Gangsters!, John Harvey Reviews, Just Plain Bad, Sequels, Unnecessary Sequels with tags , , on October 8, 2012 by knifefighter

TAKEN 2 Takes the Lazy Road to Sequel Money
Movie Review by John D. Harvey

When I posted to Facebook that I was going to review TAKEN 2, Rogan Russell Marshal (who wrote ATTIC EXPEDITIONS (2001) and FREEZER BURN (2005)) posted a comment reading (in part) “Harvey, don’t you think you can review TAKEN 2 just based on the previews and clips? (I’m not really kidding… it’s rare that I think a picture reveals itself so thoroughly, so quickly…).”

What is on its face a cynical, semi-snarky comment turned out to be painfully prophetic, except for the fact that the previews and trailers for TAKEN 2 give one at least a sliver of hope that the movie might be marginally enjoyable even if it’s entirely predictable. You know going into the theater that the first TAKEN (2008) established a formula for any sequel (someone gets kidnapped, Liam Neeson kicks ass, everyone lives happily ever after, roll credits). But, the hope is that along the way the writers and director will deliver some new fun in the form of great action, some smart comedy beats, or perhaps even some new character development that adds a fresh perspective or twist to the formula.

Yeah … so there’s none of that in TAKEN 2.

TAKEN 2 is a shining example of a movie sequel where everyone involved in its making felt solely obligated to filling a 90-minute bag with 90 minutes of lazy crap, collecting their paychecks, and then going home. It’s huge shame, because I (like many people) thoroughly enjoyed the original TAKEN.

The plot (such as it is…) goes like this. In the aftermath of the first movie, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) goes to Istanbul, Turkey, to work a private security gig for a billionaire. Once finished, he invites his young daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) to fly over for a few days of sight-seeing. Lenore has recently separated from her husband, thus making it possible for Bryan to get his nuclear family put back together again.

Little do they know that the Albanian crime family/syndicate that Bryan shot to bits in the first movie has also come to Istanbul to seek revenge on both Bryan and his family. Beyond this point exists a series of low-octane, stock chase sequences, choppy fight scenes that look like the cameraman was having some sort of massive seizure during the filming, and plot turns that do not even try to maintain any form of credulity or sense even in the context of a pulpy action/adventure film.

Perhaps one of the silliest sequences (amongst a long list of such…) in the film involved Bryan and his daughter attempting to pinpoint a vital but unknown location within Istanbul via the use of a map, shoestring, the direction of the wind, and lobbing not one but SEVERAL live hand grenades within the confines of the densely-populated city. And, apparently one can set off a bunch of hand grenades in Istanbul without a massive reaction from the local police or military. There’s something you won’t find in a Frommer’s Travel Guide!

As far as the acting goes, across the board everyone dials in their performances. Both the written dialogue and delivery is ham-fisted and on the nose. And the bad guys are nothing to write home about. In the original TAKEN, the Albanians were portrayed as brutal, scary Eastern European thugs, whereas in TAKEN 2 the same enemy has become cartoonish and clumsy. Also, the Albanians’ Muslim faith suddenly gets inserted into the mix, bringing forth a subtle xenophobia that is both lazy and pandering.

The first TAKEN succeeded because it was smartly written, brutal, efficient, and gritty. Meanwhile, TAKEN 2 fails utterly because it is lazy, clumsy, outlandish, and (unintentionally) comedic. I can’t even recommend it as a rental.

Perhaps a good sign is that when Liam Neeson was asked by Jon Stewart on THE DAILY SHOW if there was going to be a TAKEN 3, the actor immediately slashed his hand at his throat in an obvious “no more” gesture. This suggests that even Neeson recognizes TAKEN 2 didn’t do any favors for fans of the original movie.


RUN TIME: 1hr 31min‎‎


DIRECTOR: Oliver Megaton

WRITERS: Luc Besson (screenplay) and Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay)

CAST: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Rade Serbedzija, and Leland Orser

© Copyright 2012 by John D. Harvey

John Harvey gives TAKEN 2 ~ NO knives!



Posted in 2012, 3-D, Action Movies, Apocalyptic Films, Based on a Video Game, Cinema Knife Fights, Clones!, Complete Waste of Time, Dystopian Futures, Sequels, Zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by knifefighter

By Michael Arruda & L.L. Soares

(The Scene: a large studio. MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES stand in front of a blank green screen.)

L.L. SOARES: What’s with the blank screen?

MICHAEL ARRUDA: It’s blank to make a point.

LS: Is it a figurative representation of your cognitive abilities? (laughs)

(MA remains stone-faced.)

LS: Uh-oh. You have that look again. The same one you get after seeing one of the TWILIGHT movies. Something tells me you didn’t like today’s movie.

MA: You think? I don’t think there are enough expletives to describe how I feel right now. I hated RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION. You can have all the neat visuals and special effects in the world, but without a story, it’s about as entertaining as sitting for 90 minutes and staring at that blank screen (points to blank green screen.)

Here’s my plot summary for RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (2012): Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues to fight against the evil forces in her world, and she’ll still be fighting these forces in the next movie, because absolutely nothing was resolved. Okay, we can all go home now.

LS: Well, I have to admit. You make it sound better than it is.

MA: Yeah, but not much.

Today’s movie RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (2012), is the fifth movie in the RESIDENT EVIL franchise, a series based on a video game, and by golly, does it show! In this series (which started back in 2002 with the first RESIDENT EVIL movie), a virus has taken over the world—the deadly “T-virus” —turning people into murderous mutated zombies, and the bad guys pulling the strings here are the folks at the dastardly Umbrella Corporation. To save the world it’s up to Alice (Milla Jovovich), who wears tight-fitting black clothes and kicks bad guys’ butts with ease.

Just who exactly is Alice and why is she qualified to be the heroine in this series? I’m sure players of the game and fans of the movie know the answer, but based upon this one movie— and I’ve seen a couple of others, so I’m just being difficult here, to prove a point at how awful this movie is at telling a story—the audience has no idea. But the filmmakers couldn’t care less, because the audience is going to be made up of fans who do know. For the average moviegoer, this movie is a major waste of time.

LS: Actually, I think Alice isn’t a character from the games. She is more or less there to represent the player, since it’s a first person shooter game. Don’t quote me. I am no expert, I’m not a gamer, and I haven’t checked out the Resident Evil game or its sequels. End of disclaimer.

MA: Is Alice a secret agent? A hired assassin? A vengeful spirit? Just what exactly is her motivation here? For five movies she runs around fighting zombies. Why? I don’t really know, and to be honest, at this point, I don’t really care.

(ALICE walks by wearing a maid outfit.)

ALICE: Who am I? What’s my true identity?

LS: I don’t know, but why don’t you try on a few more costumes and maybe we can help you figure it out. Here, try this one on next. (Hands her a bikini.)

ALICE: Watch it guys, or I may end up kicking in you in the head, or worse!

MA: He’s the one who handed you the bikini.

ALICE: And you’re the one trash-talking my movie!

MA: I’m not trash-talking it. I’m telling it like it is. Why don’t you go figure out your identity. (ALICE looks confused for a moment, then exits)

LS (to MA): Gee, thanks a lot for canceling the fashion show!

MA:  I’ll kick myself later.  Right now I’m too incensed.

LS:  Wait a minute, are you sure that RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION even counts as a movie? Maybe we don’t have to review it.

MA (ignores him): This time around, Alice finds herself working with former enemies against former friends (oooh! how interesting!) as she continues her fight against flesh-eating zombies and the evil Umbrella Corporation.

And that’s all I got folks! I can’t even bring myself to rehash the lousy excuse of what supposedly passes as a story. (to LS) If you want to add more, be my guest, but I can’t.

And you know why? Because there’s NO STORY! Let me say it a few more times: no story, no story, no story. Did I say this movie doesn’t have a story? It also doesn’t have compelling characters. No one in this movie is at all interesting, as none of them rise above the level of video game characters.

For a while, I was enjoying the visuals in this movie, but with nothing else to offer, even these impressive 3D visuals grew tiring. After all, I didn’t pay extra money for a movie ticket just to look at cool CGI shots of Tokyo, New York, and Moscow.

LS: What about the cool brain monster? It’s this great big thing with sharp claws and a head that looks like a great big brain with teeth. I thought it was kind of a cool visual. Sure, the fact it’s CGI makes it look a little fake, and after a while, it loses its novelty completely. But for a few minutes there, I thought it was kind of neat…

What about the big car chase? Sure, it went on forever and become kind of pointless after a while. But for a minute there, it almost seemed competent. And Alice gets to drive a cool car…

What about the fight scenes? Sure they go on forever and become really pointless after a while, especially with all those lame slo-motion effects over and over, but for a few minutes there, I was having a good time. Especially Michelle Rodrigues sneering and injecting some kind of parasite into her bloodstream that gives her superpowers. And what about the blonde chick with the cleavage and the robot spider brooch? You gotta love that!

And the emotionless bad guy in the shades who talks like a character out of the MATRIX series, and who is so stiff and cartoony that you want to kick his ass every time he’s onscreen?

MA:  Amen to that!  The cartoony bastard!

LS:  What about Milla Jovovich? She’s still hot and there’s even a scene where she’s in a paper medical gown (although we never really get to see anything), but even she’s not enough to make this franchise interesting anymore…

What about the cool 3D effects that are so…..boring that you barely notice they’re there unless an axe is being flung in your direction, and which point you say, “ho hum.”

I don’t know, Michael. Help me here. I’m running out of ideas…

MA: You don’t need my help.  You’ve done a good job all by your lonesome listing all the things I didn’t like about this movie, but sadly, there’s more.

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION makes no effort to tell its story, no effort to draw in its audience, and this is what makes me so damned angry. I feel taken advantage of. How difficult would it be to take these characters and this post-apocalyptic premise and make it interesting? And if you can’t make it interesting? Here’s a thought: Don’t make the flippin movie!


The film opens with a quick summary of the previous movies, and then jumps right into more action. For some folks, maybe this is fun, but for me, within minutes, I was already bored. This movie lost me in the first 10-15 minutes. I was already gone, which meant a short 90 minute running time seemed three times that long.

LS: Gee, that makes me feel a little better. About half-way through I almost dozed off, and I thought it was because I was being lazy. But it really was a boring waste of time!

MA: And for a film with non-stop action, I can’t say that I found any of the sequences all that impressive or exciting. I really felt I was watching a video game, from the CGI fight moves to the cartoon blood, I yawned throughout.

LS: And what was up with the R-rating? No nudity, no bad language, and lots of really fake-looking CGI blood. An episode of SNOOKIE AND JWOWW is scarier.

Yeah, a series about a video game has finally become a video game itself. Not really something to brag about, unfortunately!

MA: I actually enjoyed the previous film in the series, and one of the reasons I enjoyed it was Milla Jovovich as Alice. I remember saying I could watch her all day. Well, that day is over. Sadly, not even Jovovich in her tight black suit could save this one. Seriously, there are only so many times you can watch her fight bad guys and monsters without being emotionally invested in the story.

Her main adversary in this one is her former friend Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), that “blonde with the cleavage” you mentioned earlier, and I thought the movie’s main conflict was pretty awful, and that’s pretty bad, to be awful among video game characters. Michelle Rodriguez who I like a lot—who doesn’t? —is wasted here as Rain. The role is an insult to Rodriguez’ talent.

LS: And I love Michelle Rodriguez! But what was up with her “twin” characters. One good and afraid of guns (get rid of that one!) and one sneering and evil? The good twin wasn’t even around long enough to care about. Blink and you missed her—that’s how long a “good” Michelle Rodriguez lasts. Good riddance, wimp! But not even sneering Michelle can save this movie. Although she does have on scene – one brief image – that was the best thing in the entire movie for me. She’s underwater beneath an ice floe, and a thousand zombies are grabbing her and pulling her under, intent on eating her alive. That one brief moment of film is the only image in RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION worth saving when you burn the movie for heat in the coming apocalypse.

MA:  Yeah, that was a neat image, and admittedly, there were a few of them in this movie, but it’s hard to appreciate cool images when you’re bored out of your mind!

Shawn Roberts as the villain Albert Wesker is one of the worst villains I’ve ever seen in a movie. He’s about as interesting as a storefront mannequin. I think he’s a vampire, secretly related to the Cullen family in the TWILIGHT movies, since he’s just as boring as they are.

LS: That’s “the MATRIX reject” I mentioned earlier. He makes Keanu Reeves look multi-dimensional. That dude had a much bigger role in the previous film, and his stupid, cartoony personality was almost fun last time. Here, he’s just an annoying moron you want to kick in the face. Get rid of this guy already!

And as for the TWILIGHT comparison. You may not like those movies, but at least they try to tell us a story (albeit a bad one). And hell, Kristen Stewart is kind of hot. I’d love to see her have a “sneer off” with Michelle Rodriguez.

MA: RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION was written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, and he’s written all five of the movies in this series. What can I say, other than this movie put me to sleep? That says it all, from my end. But that’s not the worst part. What’s the worst part, you ask? It’s that they’re going to do this yet again! Oh yes, this movie sets the stage for yet another sequel! Oh joy! Please, stop!

And how about those flesh eating zombies? Scary? Nope. Unless you’re scared of video game graphics.

And what’s with the alternate reality sequence at the beginning of the movie? Where Alice finds herself happily married with a young daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer)?

LS: Aryana Engineer? What kind of friggin name is that? Even her real name sounds like a robot! And don’t forget that artificial intelligence that looks like a bright red and angry Honey Boo Boo! The Red Queen! Another character who was interesting for all of…..well, she was never interesting!

MA: The movie throws this out there, and then never really goes back to it or even uses it in the story. And what about little Becky? At one point it’s said she’s not real, that all her memories have been implanted, but yet Alice keeps her with her throughout the whole film as if she’s her real daughter.

LS: Awww, isn’t that sweet? Play the “mommy card.” Maybe that will keep the audience from nodding off. Not likely!

MA: That’s how awful this movie is!  It plays the “mommy card,” and it’s not even a real kid or a real mommy!  Talk about lazy writing!

Then there’s a scene with multiple Alices hanging on an assembly line. What’s that about? Does the movie do anything with this scene? Nope.

LS: It’s not even impressive, because you know it’s just CGI crap. The clone factory scene was a complete waste of time.

MA: I hated this movie. With this film, the RESIDENT EVIL series is now rivaling the TWILIGHT series in terms of boredom. Stop making these movies already! Please, folks, don’t waste your money! Even a mediocre movie like THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY, which I reviewed last week, is better than this, because it at least made the effort to tell a story and create likable characters.

LS: Hell, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE is a masterpiece in comparison. At least it had a heart, unlike this emotionless Tin Man of a movie.

MA: And what may I ask does this movie have to do with retribution? Just who is it who is getting the just or fitting punishment? No one. Things are pretty much the same at the end of the movie as they were at the beginning. No one changes, no one learns, no one grows, and no one is punished.

LS: I sure felt punished when I was watching this movie!

MA: I have a better title for this movie, RESIDENT EVIL: STAGNATION.

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION is the worst film I’ve seen this year since BATTLESHIP (2012).
I give it 0 Knives. Woof!

LS: Nice Taylor Lautner impression. Just don’t take off your shirt now, okay?

Oh come on, at least BATTLESHIP had Taylor Kitsch and Rhianna going for it. RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION is pretty much worthless, from its generic title to its non-ending. I kept waiting for TO BE CONTINUED to flash across the screen at the end, but after a great big wide-shot of the White House and zombies and flying monsters (where did all this crap come from, anyway?), it just goes straight to the credits.

For some reason I can’t explain, I liked the last movie in the series.

MA:  Yeah, I liked the last one, too.

LS:  Yeah, I think we both gave it a pretty positive review. It was called RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (2010). I know this because I looked it up. The titles to these movies are too generic and boring to remember otherwise. The last one had good pacing, had some fun moments, and actually seemed to have a story to tell. Hell, I’ve been one of those idiots who have called the RESIDENT EVIL movies “brainless fun.” And I’ve said the series is better than the UNDERWORLD films. Well, I take all that back now.

While I liked it okay, the one thing that really pissed me off about the last movie was it ended in the middle of the story, pretty much spitting in our faces and saying “There’s gonna be a sequel, and there’s nothing you can about it. So we’re not even going to try to come up with a decent ending.”

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION doesn’t even try to entertain us, and then it gives us that cynical, lazy non-ending again, signaling yet another sequel. As the end credits rolled, and I realized we might have to sit through another one of these cinema turds. That is, unless we rebel and refuse to see it. And we just might.

The entire series has gotten lazy, cynical and just plain sadistic. I was going to give this movie half a knife. Seriously. For the brain monster, for Milla in the paper gown, and for Michelle Rodriguez being pulled underwater by a thousand zombies (I still love that one brief image). But you know what, this movie is so damn mean in the way it refuses to give us even a shred of enjoyment, that I’m going to be mean, too.

I give it zero knives as well.

This is easily one of the worst films we’ve seen this year. It’s an insult, and someone should keep them from making more. I suggest imprisonment.

(MA stands there, emotionless)

LS: No jokes this time around, no nothing, huh? You’re really pissed off about this one.

MA: Can we go now?

LS: Sure.

(MA storms off the set. LS gives the cameraman the middle finger and Exits)


© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

Michael Arruda gives RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION ~ ZERO knives!