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Film Reviews: Taken 2 (2012) and Arbitrage (2012)
Movies
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Taken 2 (2012). Directed by Oliver Megaton. Immediately following on from the previous film, it starts with the Albanian gang plotting revenge against Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), following the funerals of those he killed. It then switches to the USA, where Bryan is trying to give his daughter a driving lesson. It transpires that she's at her boyfriend's house, where he tracks her down. Bryan's ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is having trouble with her current relationship, and both her and their daughter end up meeting with Bryan in Turkey after he finishes an assignment there. Unbeknownst to them the Albanians have tracked them there. The first Taken was a fun action romp, if you enjoy watching Liam Neeson kill a number of nasty people. The second film is mostly more of the same, but firstly because it's more of the same it wasn't quite as fun. Secondly, and inevitably perhaps, the film fails to tackle the moral dilemma of the Albanians revenge. There's a rather daft interplay between the head of the Albanian gang (rent-a-foreign-thug Rade Šerbedžija) and Neeson's character - the former wants to kill the latter because he killed his son, but as the latter keeps explaining his son kidnapped his daughter and was trafficking women. In short, the moral argument goes nowhere, so they just carry on with the killing. If you couldn't get enough of the first film then you'll probably enjoy this, if you don't mind the somewhat lower quality. Others may want to avoid. 2/5 (Poor)

Arbitrage (2012). Written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki. Set in New York City, Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a billionaire owner of a hedge fund management company, where his daughter (Brit Marling) also works. Miller is trying to broker a deal to sell his company, and at first appearance appears to be the perfect businessman and family man. Arbitrage is a great mix of business drama and thriller, with a well paced story. Gere is a great piece of casting as the rather slippery and slimy Miller, as is the somewhat similar looking Marling. Other notable performances include Susan Sarandon as Miller's wife, and Tim Roth as a police detective. There is also a great contemporary soundtrack from Cliff Martinez, which does a good job of amplifying the atmospheric moments. Those who dislike business dramas may want to think twice before seeing, although it does blend this with other elements (otherwise I wouldn't have enjoyed it!). 5/5 (Excellent)
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