Taken 3 Olivier Megaton
Published Jan 09, 2015According to the Irish actor himself, Liam Neeson originally refused to reprise his roll as the highly skilled, ex-government operative Bryan Mills in another sequel of Parisian writer/director Luc Besson's somewhat successful but critically panned Taken series. Things needed to be shaken up a bit, and after losing and retrieving his daughter (played by Maggie Grace) in the original 2008 film, and subsequently being taken himself — along with his estranged ex-wife (Famke Janssen) — in the 2012 follow-up, Neeson felt the series would grow stale if all he did was play fetch for a few more films.
Because of this, Taken 3, at least as far as plot is concerned, is like no other entry in the European action series, but still ends up being another mediocre entry in Besson's spotty filmography.
It's no surprise if you've seen the film's trailer (and if not, you can view it below before reading on), but Taken 3 concerns the murder of Mills' ex-wife Lenore in his own apartment, a crime he did not commit and can't comprehend the reasoning behind.
After ten minutes of scenes depicting how out-of-date Mills is as a Dad (buying a four-foot stuffed teddy bear for his 20-something daughter's birthday) and the start of an irrelevant subplot involving his daughter Kim's hidden pregnancy (which basically functions as the innocuous "Kim can't get her driver's license" plot device seen in the last film), Neeson begins an hour-and-20-minute escape from the police, in which the only thing he takes is names while kicking the ass of any befuddled cop or Russian gangster (weren't they Turkish in the last two films?) he encounters along the way.
Taken 3 is just shameless fun, especially if you like shootouts involving Russian crime lords in their underwear, police cruisers being treated like Matchbox toy cars, and Neeson showing us all his best Krav Maga moves. It's not meant to be taken too seriously (if you want something a bit more highbrow, there's always Besson's crowing achievement, Léon: The Professional).
Still, Besson and his writing partner, Robert Mark Kamen, try to spice things up by making this more of an ensemble film this time around. The most notable inclusion here is Academy award-winner Forest Whitaker, who adds a shine similar to the one he produced on the steaming turd that was Criminal Minds spinoff Suspect Behavior, by playing the even-keeled and cautious detective Franck Dotzler. Sure, Besson and co. try to make his character more interesting on the surface than he really is — "Why does he always seem to be playing with a chess piece," you ask? We may never know — but by splitting the screen with Neeson it frees up more time for things like, you know, plot development (as well as hiding the fact that the 62-year-old Neeson isn't entirely cut out for high-octane action scenes anymore).
As far as editing is concerned, Taken 3 looks like someone got drunk while working with Windows Movie Maker, and by replacing the beautiful (and exotic, at least by North American standards) French and Turkish scenery with the beige and drab locales of the Los Angeles suburbs, the film loses a lot of flavour found in the original (the only thing reminiscent of the European style of modern action films here is the jumbled up jump cuts).
For what it's worth, Taken 3 delivers in all the right places. It's just not a very good movie, which never really seemed to be the point of these films in the first place.