Taken 3 Plot Summary:
When his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is murdered, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is framed as the prime suspect and chased down by the LAPD. As Mills runs from the cops, he becomes engulfed in a dispute with Russian gangsters, all while trying to keep the only family he has left safe, his daughter (Maggie Grace).
Ever since the first Taken blew onto the screen in 2008, Liam Neeson has been kicking ass as an old man action star ever since. As he returns yet again to the role that launched his new career, I have to admit this was the first time where Liam Neeson truly looked old. Don’t get me wrong – he can still carry a movie like no other, but while I forgave most of Taken 2, I can’t do the same for this one. Yeah, this just isn’t very good. While Neeson is clearly the best part of the film, it’s not enough to save it from the absolutely horrific directing.
Olivier Megaton (Taken 2) returns to the directing chair and got worse. The editing is some of the worst I’ve ever seen on film. The movie begins in real awkward fashion. There’s a quick shot of a building, and then we are immediately launched into mid-conversation with random generic evil Russian bad guys. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how they were actually credited. Despite a cool opening credits sequence, this is herky-jerky editing at its worst. My old nemesis Shaky Cam makes an appearance, so that sucks. It’s frustrating, because all the actions scenes in the previous Taken films are so well filmed, yet here it’s a complete pile of vomit inducing nausea. I honestly have nothing left to say on Shaky Cam. I’m exhausted. Bottom-line: I don’t like it.
Not only is the editing stupid, but the entire film is just one big pile of dumb. It’s not like the previous films were genius, but they at least had a sense of logic to them. This takes a simple, bad ass premise and turns it into a bad Die Hard movie. I can suspend my disbelief a lot with film, but what happens in Taken 3 is just unforgivable. They don’t give a shit. I think Bryan Mills literally blew up in one scene, but two seconds later he walked out of the explosion without a scratch like T-1000. There’s one sequence where he impossibly survives a car crash. In the next scene, the villain asks him how he did it, and the movie literally just flashes back to random edited shots that explain nothing. Wow. Like I said, they didn’t give a shit.
There’s also way too much of a hokey factor. Some of the dialogue in the beginning is CW level bad. Also, for some reason characters are obsessed with round pastry in this movie. I’m dead serious. Seriously, a few of the main characters are constantly referring to bagels. Even Forest Whitaker who plays the detective assigned to catch Mills, munches on a bagel during a homicide investigation and nods his head in approval of the bagel. There is nobody who loves bagels for than me, but seriously, calm down with the bagels. Then we get another scene where the cops are investigating a gas station, but the movie takes a few seconds to show one of them eating a donut What the hell is going on? And the round food obsession doesn’t end there. They have product placement for Fruit Loops during a big fight scene. I’m not kidding. There is Liam Neeson kicking ass, but instead the camera shoves Fruit Loops in your face. I don’t know who thought Fruit Loops and Taken were a good match. It was probably Luc Besson who’s a credited screenwriter.
Now for all my complaining, this isn’t as bad as a lot of other action films out there. At least the performances were good. Liam Neeson is Liam Neeson. There’s really nothing else to say. What disappointed me though were the ass kickings felt watered down. What makes the first one so great, and to an extent the second film, is that the fighting is harsh and brutal. Not so much here. Maggie Grace returns as the daughter, and she does a good job of elevating a weak character. Maggie Grace doesn’t get enough credit, she’s a solid actress. Forest Whitaker is also very dependable, and the back and forth between him and Mills is actually decently developed. I like that Whitaker was a smart cop, and knew what he was in for with Mills. For some reason his character liked to play with elastics though. I have no idea what that was about. Again, that was probably Luc Besson.
What absolutely sucks is the story. Now when I say that, I’m obviously not expecting some groundbreaking original material with Taken 3, alright. And that’s my point. They completely over-complicate this movie. Come on – it’s Taken. Just do that, for crying out loud. They try and have their cake and eat it too by introducing a new gangster (Sam Spruell) you get to know for all of two minutes, but also make one of the characters from the first movie into a villain, and you still have the whole cops situation to deal with. It’s a complete mess, and I stopped paying attention. Nobody cares.
I at least cared about the fates of Mills and Kim (the daughter), but that’s because I was already familiar with them from two other movies, and not so much a credit to this film. The last action sequence was pretty solid though. All in all, this should be it for the Taken franchise. They took a great first movie that was a nice little surprise, and stretched it out into two more films. It’s the Hangover of action franchises. I think we’re done here.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.