"They want revenge. They chose the wrong guy.".
That's the tagline of Taken 2. It also could have been: "They wanted a good movie. They chose the wrong director.". But that would probably be too short-sighted because the real problem goes deeper. Taken 2 suffers from many different things with no chance to recover whatsoever. First of all, it's directed by Olivier Megaton instead of Pierre Morel. After the amazing first one that basically came out of nowhere, the disappointment was bound to occur. Some movies simply don't need a sequel because the story has already been told and Taken is one of them. But when a movie makes as much money as the first one, only financial interests count and a sequel is almost inevitable. Taken 2 is a perfect example for that hypothesis and it lacks a lot of ingredients for a good movie. Contentwise (granates are tossed around in Instanbul; making a phone call although being surrounded by hostiles; Kim's sudden Rallye Dakar skills; the kamikaze break-in at the US embassy etc.) as well as the technical aspect (staccato-ish editing; hectical camera work in general; screwing around with the optic of single frames), one really hasn't covered oneself in glory. The refreshing straightforwardness and the consequent mercilessness is barely existent. One might think that Taken 2 was originally shot for a PG-13 and that it just got a little too rough for it. But that's not a problem that couldn't be solved in the editing room.
And since movies produced by Luc Besson almost traditionally made it to the movie theaters with the more profitable PG-13 during the last years, for which the movies always had to be censored, it was no surprise that Taken 2 was handled in the very same way. Many people have probably noticed and a lot of them might have known in advance but they just didn't care. That's the only explanation for a box office result of $370 million worldwide. The obligatory Unrated Version is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Unrated Version is more than 6 minutes longer. But contrary to the first one, there are more differences that cut scenes to get the PG-13. It rather seems like they wanted to save time. As a result, there are more plot elements in the Unrated Version and especially one thing: more walking (I'm not kidding, there's almost an entire minute of more walking in it). That means not everything is really noticable and that footage is simply superfluous, that's for sure. Nevertheless, the violence is rougher now (here are the common differences like cuts, more harmless alternate footage, reducing the blood color, reducing or removing the sound of cracking bones) but it still doesn't reach the level of the first Taken. Just like anything else. A real bummer.
Compared are the Theatrical Version (PG-13) and the Unrated Cut (both available on the US-BD by 20th Century Fox).
There are 75 differences, 50 of them are relevant.
The Unrated Cut is 6 minutes 12 seconds longer than the Theatrical Version.
Extended Scene in the Theatrical Version
Theatrical Version: 0:07:37: Extended shot of Kim and Jamie kissing.
+ 4.84 sec
0:07:40: Kim stops Jamie from taking off her clothes. He wants to know what was wrong and she starts to beat around the bush. She says she liked him very much, he calms her down and says she had all the time she needed.
0:11:27: Bryan waits for Kim to go to the house, then he calls his buddy Sam. He asks him to make a background check on Jamie which he starts immediately with of course.
0:11:58: The shot of the driving train is slightly different and longer in the Unrated Extended Version. Trvial.
0:12:48: Now that's interesting. When Jean-Claude spits blood after he got punched in the face, the color of the blood has been removed in the Theatrical Version so that it looks like drool.
The Unrated Cut is 0.56 sec longer
0:12:52: Jean-Claude has blood in his face in both versions but the Unrated Extended Version is a bit longer.
The Unrated Cut is 0.8 sec longer
0:12:56: Two different takes of Jean-Claude explaining he didn't know. The Theatrical Version rapidly switches to a shot from a further distance while the Unrated Extended Version sticks with the bloody face all the time.
The Unrated Cut is 3 sec longer
0:13:05: A longer piece is missing here. Jean-Claude takes a hard punch in the face and spits blood again. His opponent asks him about Bryan's whereabouts twice but he remains silent. Not until then, the Albanian guy is trying to get the knife.
0:13:29: Close-up of Jean-Claude in the Theatrical Version, shot of him being tied to a chair in the Unrated Extended Version.
The Theatrical Version is 0.96 sec longer
0:14:04: It turns out that Jean-Claude's opponent is a brother of Marco. He explains to him that Bryan had been in Paris and he has killed Marco there. He also says he has found one of Jean-Claude's business cards on him. Then he asks the captive about Bryan's whereabouts one more time and hits the scissors stuck in Jean-Claude's leg again. He screams in agonizing pain which is still audible during the change of scenery to Bryan in the vehicle.
0:21:26: Bryan asks Kim whether she knew something special they could do. She smiles and says that she might have something in mind.
0:21:38: Kim is dancing on the dancefloor of a nightclub, while Bryan sits around at the bar and has an eye on her. When she comes over to him to ask whether or not they should leave, he ironically responds that he would love to stay for a few more hours. They both smile and leave the club.
0:24:05: Some more shots before the ride. They probably just cut that out for the sake of the Theatrical Version's flow.
0:33:03: The bad guys follow Bryan longer. The latter uses a side street to get rid of them. One of the bad guys slips on the stairs.
Theatrical Version: 0:30:29: A short part of the longer escape from the Unrated Version is also shown in the Theatrical Version.
0:34:26: When the Albanian shoots one of his colleagues, the Unrated Version shows bloody bullet wounds in his chest, while the Theatrical Version shows a less explicit shot from behind.
The Unrated Version is 0.8 Sec. longer.
0:34:27: Some blood splashes out of the Albanian's back. In the Theatrical Version the shot is the same, however, the blood was retouched.
No difference in time.
0:40:39: During the second shot in the guy's back, the blood effects were taken out digitally.
No difference in time.
0:40:52: Different shots of the inside of the elevator while the security guards are being shot. In the Unrated Version you see bloody bullet wounds in their backs – not so in the Theatrical Version.
No difference in time.
0:40:53: The assassins shoot at the security guards a little longer.
0:47:45: Kim goes down the stairs.
0:47:53: Again, the flow of the movie was accelerated: In the Theatrical Version, Kim leaves the staircase faster.
0:47:56: Kim goes along a hallway.
0:48:13: Kim looks around. Maybe the sincerity in her eyes was too much for the PG-13 rating...
0:48:17: Here you even see Alternative Footage, before Kim grabs the padlock. As a result, the Theatrical Version is 1.36 seconds shorter.
0:48:35: New hallway, new running action. Her stamina seems to be pretty good.
0:48:55: Murad's son hits Bryan in the stomach several times before Murad himself enters the room.
0:49:15: Subsequently, the Unrated Version shows Murad entering the room while he – via a snap – tells his son to leave. Since the son wasn't even shown in the Theatrical Version beforehand, both versions use alternate takes until they are synchronized again when Murad shows the pictures to Bryan.
The Unrated Version is 10.56 Sec. longer.
0:55:57: Murad's henchmen look surprised after the grenade exploded.
0:56:54: The men look at each other dazzlingly. Something seems to be wrong.
0:58:41: We see a more explicit take of Bryan shooting the guy in the stomach. In the Theatrical Version we instead see a close-up shot of Bryan's face. When the guy falls to the ground, this is shown earlier in the Theatrical Version.
Die UR läuft 0.32 Sec. longer
0:58:46: Additional shot of the man being shot. Nothing explicit happens.
0:58:47: In both versions we can tell that Bryan shoots the guy who kicked him in the foot. However, in the Unrated version we see the bullet wound in the foot.
The Theatrical Versdion is 0.32 Sec. longer.
0:58:50: In the Theatrical Version we do not see the bullet wound. Additionally, Bryan quickly fires a second shot at his opponent, which we only see in the Unrated Version. The Theatrical Version uses a more harmless alternate take.
The Unrated Version is 0.48 Sec. longer.
0:58:51: The Theatrical Version does not show how another Albanian comes out of nowhere and swoops down on Bryan. Since the latter is out of ammo, he pushes his gun hard against the attacker's larynx until he dies. Then Bryan takes another gun from the table.
1:11:42: Longer tracking shot of the mosque.
1:11:55: Bryan walks along the hallways a little longer.
1:12:15: Again, he walks through a hallway. Not really important.
1:12:19: He nods to the men at the table and then looks at the yard.
1:12:28: Kim's Dad definitively seems to be her model when it comes to walking.
1:13:11: The Theatrical version shortly cuts to a clock, while the Unrated Version shows the blurry shot of the cathedral a little longer.
The Theatrical Version is 0.32 Sec. longer.
1:13:11: 2 short sequences of Bryan walking around.
1:13:37: Bryan seems to have much more time to save Lenore in the Unrated Version. Or maybe it is just supposed to show that he (in the Unrated Version) is a tough guy - even towards his beloved. One should probably ask the director for a statement... Anyways, we see Bryan walking around again in an Unrated-exclusive shot. Still, we don't think it's important enough to include pictures for it.
1:13:41: Short optical gadgets on the ferry.
1:14:04: Bryan still walks along his path.
1:14:56: He's almost there.
1:15:10: Just a few more steps...
1:15:31: Now we have some variety: Bryan passes a woman. He looks at her but then decides to let her live.
1:16:14: When Bryan breaks the bad guy's neck, only the Unrated Version has a sound of cracking bones. Additionally, Bryan holds him differently.
The Unrated Version is 0.12 Sec. longer.
1:17:31: Bryan goes through the house with his weapon equipped.
1:17:43: One of the bad guys fell asleep; someone is calling for him.
1:17:56: Only the Unrated Version shows the bullet wounds on the guy's back.
1:17:57: Bryan continues to put holes into the guy. In the Theatrical Version, the bullet wounds were retouched so that you no longer see the blood.
1:18:03: Bryan fires two more shots at his opponent - one of them is a hit which we only see in the Unrated Version.
1:18:32: Bryan hits the guy above him in the staircase. However, only the Unrated Version shows blood.
No difference in time.
1:18:40: Another fight was cut out of the Theatrical Version. A man attacks Bryan with a knife, however, the latter throws him down the staircase. He lands on his colleague.
1:19:32: Three frames were deleted from the Theatrical Version so that we do not see blood splashing out of the wound.
1:19:59: Again, blood was retouched after the guy was hit in the shoulder. However, you can barely see it.
No difference in time.
1:20:25: During the fight, Bryan spots an item in the door (probably a dooknobs) which he uses to stab his opponent.
1:20:37: Someone fires a shot during the fight.
1:20:39: Another stab with the doorknob.
1:20:41: We see the gangster on the floor from a distance.
1:20:43: Bryan hits him two more times and then pushes the gun to the side. Two shots are being fired.
1:23:27: The Theatrical Version misses out on a quick punch by Bryan.
1:23:33: We see more bullet wounds (some of these on Bryan's body). Bryan pushes his thumbs into the bad guy's eyes - the latter screams in pain.
1:23:46: Bryan is hit by his own arm.
1:23:51: How mean: Bryan has Murad's son in a headlock, however, the latter pulls Bryans fingers.
1:23:58: A close-up shot shows how the knife cuts Bryan's hand.
1:24:00: The knife ends up in the son's chest and gets pulled back out again.
1:24:29: At this point, both versions use different takes. Bryan breaks Murad's son's neck. The Unrated Version shows in a short close-up shot how the neck falls on the edge and cracks. The Theatrical Version is more harmless and also does not include a sound.
No difference in time.
1:28:03: Short shot of the wardrobe hooks which are getting closer. Murad is being pushed into them. Midnight Express, anyone?