Imagery Sets the Tone for Taken 2

Neeson in Taken 2
(L to R) Megaton, Sarel Eloff and Lacourbas on the set. (Photo: Magali Bragard ©2011 Europacorp, M6 Films/Grive Productions)

In Taken, the Albanian mafia kidnapped the daughter of ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). In that film, Mills had to use all his special skills to track them down and get her back, killing several gang members in the process. In the sequel, Taken 2, the head of the mafia clan gets his revenge by kidnapping Mills and his wife while they are on holiday in Istanbul.

“...We are both so passionate about film... When you are doing multi-camera shots with a tough schedule and no more than nine hours of sun per day in the turkish winter, you want something reliable.”

Taken 2 was directed by Olivier Megaton and shot by Romain Lacourbas on locations in Istanbul, the south of Turkey, Los Angeles and Paris, between October 2011 and February of this year. The director and cinematographer had previously worked together on Colombiana and Transporter 3.

“Olivier and I didn’t really consider using digital for Taken 2 because we are both so passionate about film,” says Lacourbas. “We have worked together on several features and have always used film. There was no viable technical or artistic reason to shoot Taken 2 in digital. When you are doing multi-camera shots with a tough schedule and no more than nine hours of sun per day in the Turkish winter, you want something reliable.

“Film helped us achieve the look we wanted,” he continues. “The images were designed to give a different visual identity to each of the four countries where the action takes place (the United States, Albania, Turkey and France). It allowed us to portray a gradual cooling of the image as the intrigue and suspense built up. The movie begins in Albania with golden tones and clear color separation, and then moves to a hot and summery Los Angeles. But little by little, it reaches a cold ambience, with higher and more diffuse lighting in Istanbul, where the kidnapping takes place.

Lacourbas chose to use different emulsions to help differentiate the locations. At the beginning of the film, he used KODAK VISION3 250D Color Negative Film 5207 and created a more defined and warm image.

For the Istanbul scenes, he chose KODAK VISION3 500T Color Negative Film 5219 for colder images with more grain in scenes where the main drama takes place. “Sometimes I even pushed the stock a little, too,” Lacourbas explains. “The choice of lenses also accentuated the locations. The scenes in America were shot anamorphic, while we used spherical lenses for the portion in Turkey.

“I think film gives an image character even before it gets to post-production,” adds Lacourbas. “The desired grain is already there, as well as the fineness of the details and the softness of the contours. It also flattens the highlights. We were able to slow down the film directly for stunt shots and effects work, something you can’t do with digital.

Post-production on Taken 2 was done by Digital Factory using a digital intermediate. The film releases worldwide in October.