Snapshots - #38: Only the Brave, Jane, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Only the Brave (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Based on the true story of the effort it took to get a municipal crew of firefighters from Prescott, Arizona, certified as Hotshots. After battling thousands of wildfires since their inception, the Granite Mountain Hotshots answered a call to battle the Yarnell Hill fire—about 30 miles away from Prescott—along with several other crews. How they got to that point and what happened is what this movie is about.
Only the Brave is a drama with some thriller on the side, and excellent performances to boast of. It's got a dynamic pace, engaging plot, amazing shots of wildfires, fun camaraderie, and great music to underscore the action. As an audience, we care for the journey of that crew, individually and as a group, and as heartbreaking as the closing scenes are, we stand in awe at the sacrifices that firefighters and their families make every day of their lives. Only the Brave is a darn great tribute to them, and elite firefighters such as the Granite Moun…

Taken 2 (♦♦♦½)

Bryan Mills’ family is beginning to recover from the shock of Kim having been sold as a slave by human traffickers. This time, Lenore (Bryan’s ex and Kim’s mother) is separated from her second husband and going through a rough patch. Kim is dating a young guy and taking driving lessons from her father.

On short notice, Lenore’s soon to be ex-husband cancels plans he has to spend time with Lenore and Kim, and Bryan invites them to travel to Istanbul to spend time with him where he will be on an assignment. Soon after Lenore and Kim arrive in Turkey, the family of the men who took Kim last time come looking for Bryan to avenge the deaths of their relatives. Lenore and Bryan are kidnapped but Kim escapes unscathed. It is up to Kim this time around to find out her parents’ location and save the day…with her father’s help, of course.

Good movie but not great, not even remotely to the level of the first Taken; there is less drama in spite of the obligatory chase scenes round Istanbul, and the killing of one guy after another. Taken 2 feels too familiar and predictable after the events narrated in the first installment. Besides, how much more of the same can that family take?

Liam Neeson is great as always as the leading character Bryan Mills, and Maggie Grace, as Kim, has a more active role than crying and screaming this time around. Famke Janssen co-stars as Lenore, a.k.a. Leny.

Overall, Taken 2 is OK to watch, but it isn’t as good or as smart as the original.