Liam Neeson in Taken 2
Liam Neeson's Taken 2 has topped the US box office after grossing $50 million in it's opening weekend.

After the blockbuster success of Taken there was always pressure for its sequel to produce the goods.

But not only has Liam Neeson's Taken 2 beaten its successor - it has made critics eat their words in the process.

The widely panned action thriller has stormed to the top of the US box-office after raking in $50m (£31m) in its opening weekend.

That is double the amount for Taken, which made $24.7m in its weekend debut in 2009.

Taken 2 also raised an additional $55m from 50 international markets to raise its worldwide total to $117m.

The new instalment sees 60-year-old Neeson reprise his role as retired CIA agent Bryan Mills, who is forced to take on kidnappers after his daughter and his wife are taken hostage during their family holiday in Istanbul.

"He gives hope to aging men," said film analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

"He's done the reverse of most actors, where you do the action stuff when you're younger then do the more introspective work when you're older."

While Dergarabedian gave the film rave reviews, other critics labelled it outlandish or formulaic.

Alonso Duralde did not spare any feelings and likened the movie and its jerky action sequences to "cinematic waterboarding."

Another critic said: "Fans of the previous film are likely to be left with a distinctly sour taste. There is virtually no plot, just a succession of screeching chases and absurdly violent fights, some risible sleuthing and a great deal of talking on mobiles."

Despite receiving mixed reviews, fans do not seem to have been put off. It has pushed Adam Sandler's Hotel Transylvania down to second place at the US box office.

The spooky animated hit made $26.3m in its second week, taking $105.3m worldwide.