In Taken, when Maggie Grace got taken, Liam "Her Dad" Neeson didn't waste time. He told the bad sex-traffickers who did the takening that he would find them and that he would kill them. Then he obliterated every single person who stood between him and his teen's virgin honor. He didn't crack jokes and he didn't stop for a cigarette break and he didn't strut around feeling good about himself. This is because Luc Besson wrote the film with mayhem (and, perhaps, a healthy fear of Neeson) on his mind.
And then Escape from New York came up in Luc Besson's Netflix queue and that's when he decided to write a copycat movie with something else on his mind: his apparently long-standing, reasons-unknown, grudge against Guy Pearce. It was time to prank his most hated Australian enemy, to shame him in public on 2000 screens. "No, no, it won't be exactly like Taken," he told Pearce, reeling him in. "Obviously, yes, you'll be saving Maggie Grace, too, but your character won't be an angry, Frankensteinish vigilante. And, of course, you're nowhere near old enough to play her father. Who is this Neeson person, anyway? A joke! But not you, Guy. You're still young, vibrant and virile, the action hero cinema's really been waiting for. Also, you get to be a badass and say wisecracks and it's set in a space prison. This will be your Die Hard."
Which brings us to that space prison, where the worst criminals on Earth are blasted up past the moon and put into deep sleep chambers for undetermined amounts of time. Maggie Grace is the President's daughter, on a humanitarian mission to determine if the prisoners are suffering mistreatment. They are. And then one of them wakes up and says a muck of Scottish gibberish that requires Trainspotting subtitles, turns the place upside down and wakes up all the other bad guys. At this point Guy Pearce is sent into orbit. When he arrives he smokes a cig, punches Maggie Grace in the face and makes blowjob jokes. By way of retort, she offers, "Are you always this obnoxious?" and other pouty stuff like that instead of commandeering his gun and shooting him before turning into Lady Terminator and just saving herself. The Luc Besson from back in the day would have gone down that road, it would have all turned insane, there'd have been parkour, some mutants maybe, lots of shooting and wild action. But this time he held back, determined to see The Great Guy Pearce Humiliation 2012 plan through to the end.
And it worked, too. Pearce's character isn't the cool anti-hero, he's just empty and dickish. Worse, the actor's efforts are wasted by tired, rote action moves and yawn-making stakes. With each passing minute of boredom, you get closer and closer to deciding that it would be better to spend outer space eternity with Jar Jar Binks over this jerk. At least he's nice and could probably throw down if necessary.