Taken 2: The Cleaners

Those of us too penniless to pay for the adverts to go away on a particular music database software, will undoubtedly have been recently bludgeoned by the testostermoaning — the machine-gunning — Megaton cash-grabbing — and Hollywooden grit that is the trailer for the new disasterpiece, Taken 2. And, like me, you’ll have heard the frankly incredibly generous reviews it is getting — if you haven’t, then let me enlighten you: critics are, apparently, calling it “the thrill ride of the year”, with the Daily Star going so far as to say “eat your heart out 007”, “10/10”.

And if, like me, you know this movie is going to be an appalling piece of heartless, though glitzy, sewage, then you’ll have wondered who — who, that evidently thinks highly enough of cinema to write about it — would give this thing not simply a good review, but a flawless review — 10 out of 10. And you’ll have done some armchair investigations. But for anyone that hasn’t — you will perhaps be unsurprised to hear — that none of this coverage actually exists — or, at least, does not exist in relation to Taken 2.

So let’s start with the Daily Star — which movie reviewer was dense enough to believe that this was worth full marks — well, as it turns out, there is no such movie reviewer. Instead, the reviewer on the Daily Star’s website gives the movie a far more reasonable 2/5. But it’s still entirely possible that they enjoyed the action set-pieces enough to suggest it gives Bond a run for his money. Actually, they don’t do that either. In no place in the article do the words “eat your heart out 007” appear. But that’s not to say the Daily Star has never heaped such praise on such a movie — no, instead, a brief search of their archives tells us that, in fact, it was The Dark Knight Rises that had a perfect 10, that had sequences to cause Bond to commit autophagy.

Let us ignore for the moment the odd way in which the Star seems to have two entirely distinct scales on which movies are rated, it would seem that the words from one review have simply been supplanted into the promotional matter for an entirely unrelated movie. Incidentally, as if it makes any difference, the reviews for TDKR and Taken 2 are not even written by the same person. Still, if I’d made a movie as terrible as Taken 2 seems to be, I’d certainly prefer to promote it via the discourse on a critically acclaimed movie.

And, actually, are they entirely unrelated? Let’s consider — because we still have that other quote dangling limply before us, and, as I’m sure everyone can second guess, neither is Taken 2 considered by the Daily Star’s reviewer the “thrill ride of the year”. The connecting link between the Batman franchise and the Taken franchise — Liam Neeson. Although only a cameo, Neeson does have a part to play in TDKR. Oh, well, it isn’t so entirely dishonest then, because Neeson was in Batman, and Neeson is in Taken 2, so basically it’s like they’re the same movie, which means it cannot possibly matter whether executives use material from Batman to promote this other movie.

In fact, it is this connection, the Liam Neeson connection, that provides the only potential link with this second quote — “thrill ride of the year” — and This Other Movie. Looking for movies that have been deemed a “thrill ride” of a “year” obviously brings with it a fair amount of pre-2012 baggage. So let us stick with movies that have come out this year – otherwise, we may risk stepping in some Transformers, and nobody wants that.

Liam Neeson has been in five movies this year, and if we subtract This Other Movie from the mix — because no amount of searching connects the quote with the movie — and therefore there are no grounds on which to say that the quote is without a doubt from a critic reviewing This Other Movie — we are still left with four action movies, action movies that are likely to have, at some developmental stage, been considered “thrilling”, even if they failed in reality. And, as it turns out, a reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes, reviewing Neeson’s The Grey — a movie that came out in January — calls it a movie  that “may very well be the best thrill ride of the year even after August”. Which — as the reviewer has pointed out — is not the same thing at all as saying a movie is unreservedly the thrill ride of the year; and if, indeed, this review is the source of the quote (an hypothesis currently simply based on the Neeson connection, and the fact that in no other review can I find remarks even remotely similar to this pertaining to This Other Movie), if, indeed, this is the source of the quote, the advert is using a review that, in the first place, did not offer unconditional praise to a different movie, but offers an opinion full of necessary qualifiers. If we restore the original quote, if we replace the ‘may’, then it seems the advert, through all its desperate and dishonest tactics, is undermining itself.

The only other reasonable option is that the quote has been made-up — it’s a bland enough compliment to give a movie, bland enough to prevent anybody with better things to do of a Sunday from really finding out whether or not This Other Movie is actually a “thrill ride”, and if so, if it really would be a thrill ride to render all other thrill rides this year redundant. And, of course, it wouldn’t be the first time movie promoters have just vomited their own pleasing bile all over their own movie posters (Hello to David Manning!) — but at least they had the decency to go to the effort of creating an entirely fictional reviewer, and didn’t just steal choice phrases from other, more deserving movies.

So, while it is still technically possible that some other reviewer in some other, paper-based medium has, in fact, called This Other Movie “the thrill ride of the year” — considering that the promoters have patently — patently! — and dishonestly taken material from another, far-better movie and shamelessly slapped their own turgid celluloid silly with it — considering this, then Taken 2, you are guilty until proven innocent on this count. And even if you are innocent on this count, you’re still so obviously guilty. I hope you are ashamed of yourself.


And because it is important to be better than the people involved with This Other Movie have been, I cite my sources:

The Daily Star, Taken 2 review: http://tiny.cc/x1ctlw

The Daily Star, TDKR review: http://tiny.cc/q2ctlw

JK Lyles, The Grey review: http://tiny.cc/j3ctlw

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4 Responses to “Taken 2: The Cleaners”

  1. jklmd2002 Says:

    I thought you had some interesting points here, but then you went and did exactly what you got on the movie companies for doing – using a quote out of context to work in your favor.

    Here’s my quote for “The Grey” — “January is usually an awful month for movies. While this probably wouldn’t do too well as a summer blockbuster, ‘The Grey’ hardly belongs in the month of misfit movies. It may very well be the best thrill ride of the year even after August. Don’t miss it.”

    I hate the broad, sweeping “best action movie of all-time!” and “best film of the year” type quotes myself and try very hard not to use them. I certainly wouldn’t be so foolish as to call a January movie “the thrill ride of the year.”

    I know it’s easy to get on a tangent, especially for something you don’t like, but you’ve gotta be mindful not to do what you’re complaining that other people are doing as it reads like it’s OK for you to do it, but not them.

    • whitefrancis Says:

      Thank you for this – I will change things accordingly. But, your comments bring up even more interesting points.

      It is interesting that the snippet of your review that can be found on the Rotten Tomatoes website is limited to: “May very well be the best thrill ride of the year even after August. Don’t miss it.” Already wrenched out of context – with none of the qualifiers you give the quote by making some rather more sober comments about the shortcomings of The Grey – the comment seems to suggest that, at least up till the midway mark of the year, the movie is, in fact, a thrill ride. Obviously, this is the fault of the sort of gobbet-generating culture the internet proliferates – the implied warning being, I think, that even the conclusion of a review is under no obligation to restrict itself to representing the reviewer’s own definitive opinion.

      I hope, however, that even as it originally stands – while still an incorrect quote of yours, but a correct rendering of Taken 2’s obscuring of your quote – it does not actually effect the overall argument made in the blog. This, I think, is because I am not necessarily concerned with your opinions on The Grey (and I’m happy change the fact that it looks like I think you loved that movie), but rather with the origin of a dubious quote and its subsequent application to an irrelevant movie.

      Even better than this, though, is, actually, how your complete review of ‘The Grey’ (if, indeed, your review is the source of the quote used in the Spotify advert – which is by no means certain, and I make clear that making this leap is still hypothetical, and based simply on the fact that in no online piece can I find evidence that suggests Taken 2 is called a ‘thrill ride’) – as I say, even better is how your complete review of The Grey undermines the advert’s tactics even more. The advert both de- and re-contextualises your comments for its own end by making exactly the same error I was led to make as a result, my removing the qualifying ‘may’ from the quote. In fact, if we reinsert this ‘may’, then, essentially, the advert is using a review from another movie that wasn’t even full of unadulterated adulation originally.

      • jklmd2002 Says:

        Thanks. Would you mind sending me the link from Spotify? I’m curious to see it.

      • whitefrancis Says:

        As soon as I hear it again, I’ll copy it over for you. It was almost all I heard yesterday, and now, not a single time today.

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