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Taken 2

John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace star in "Taken 2."
Liam Neeson scowls his way through the sour sequel "Taken 2" (Fox). Moviegoers may find themselves displaying a similar expression should they choose to spend a long 90 minutes watching Neeson tangle with—and inevitably best—one anonymous heavy after another.

This time out, Neeson's Bryan Mills—a retired CIA agent short of fuse but long on mad fighting skills —is up against the machinations of a grudge-bearing Albanian by the name of Murad (Rade Sherbedgia). Murad is out for revenge because Bryan killed his son, the principal baddie of the first installment of the franchise.

Never having been exposed to the civilizing influences of Walmart and the Olive Garden, poor benighted Murad, who's not only Eastern European but a Muslim to boot, fails to understand that junior had his torturous death at Bryan's hands coming. So he hatches a plot to kidnap Bryan, Bryan's ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and their teen daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).

Since Kim's previous abduction by Murad's pride and joy—a serial human trafficker—provided the premise of the earlier go-round, perhaps she should contact Lloyd's of London at this point and see if they don't offer an insurance policy for this sort of thing.

The perfunctory setup we witness before Murad springs his trap includes a nod or two in the direction of family togetherness and hints at a possible reconciliation for Bryan and Lenore. But, given that Bryan's methods of paternal protectiveness resemble those of a Mafia don, the emotions expressed on the way to his killing spree ring hollow.

In reality, mayhem for its own sake seems to be the driving principle behind director Olivier Megaton's otherwise largely pointless shoot-em-up.

The film contains frequent, sometimes gory violence, including beatings and torture, brief premarital sensuality, at least one use of profanity and occasional crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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Francis of Assisi: Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a sense of self-importance. 
<p>Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy." </p><p>From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman. </p><p>He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evokng sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking. </p><p>But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (Luke 9:1-3). </p><p>Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity. </p><p>He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade. </p><p>During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44), he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side. </p><p>On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It consists in knowing one is welcomed and loved by God…. And so we are able to open our eyes again, to overcome sadness and mourning to strike up a new song. And this true joy remains even amid trial, even amid suffering, for it is not a superficial joy: it permeates the depths of the person who entrusts himself to the Lord and confides in him.

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