This is the sequel of a heart-rending story. A man learned his daughter was abducted in a foreign country. Unlike most people, he is a man of war, so his recourse was to war. He saved his daughter by killing the men who abducted her. American life – civilized life – does not include this sort of problem. What do you do when you cannot be friends with people? When you have to kill to survive?
In the sequel, we see two things we rarely see. One of them is a pervasive Muslim presence. The story takes place in Istanbul, Turkey, perhaps the only Muslim democracy. We never see Muslim enemies, but we see them now. So the other rarity: America is shown both as a fortified embassy & a family of tourists. The one shows strength, the other weakness. In fact, a fortified embassy suggests dangers – tourism, oblivion.
The Muslims in the story stand for barbarism. The man who attacks the American family is happy to admit his boys were murderers & rapists; it does not bother him. The American killed his son, that’s the end of the story – the American family must be killed. The American calls this vengeance, though the Muslim patriarch had called it justice. The Muslim does not fight over the name – he wants the killing done, so that he can then rest.
The American family is humorously shown as tourists. They want to take in the sights, they marvel at this very different city, where things & people look so strange. Of course, they expect it to be as peaceful as any American city. It turns out it’s not – at least not for them. This explains the strangeness of the action: We see little of the city, we understand very little, we move quickly through streets, & above roofs.
We are not home there. We do not feel like locals, whom we do not understand. We look at this place in the way we all must who are not locals. It teaches us to fear strangers, which is a very strange teaching. It is not cosmopolitan. But it reminds us also that these strangers may be lawless. Their great love of their own families inclines them to destroy others’ families.
America confronts here a kind of life where family is everything. – We learn that the criminal organization is a tribe; we see them infiltrating the police in Istanbul; we see them live in the underground. The family is private, hidden to the city, the strength of family love a threat to the city. The man of war must teach martial virtues to his daughter, though not his wife, in order to win this war.
An unusually popular sequel to a very compelling movie. Liam Neeson back in action.