“It End Here” is the tag line for Taken 3 and HOPEFULLY they mean it. This is a one-and-they’re-done film that became a franchise and it has been all downhill since the first Taken was released in 2008. The reason the first film was such a success was because just about everyone could connect with a father trying to get his daughter back from kidnappers. Liam Neeson gave a strong performance and the film’s energy made Taken a pretty fun ride. With Taken 2 and now Taken 3 I can safely say this is a franchise that has been run into the ground.
Taken 3 starts with Bryan Mills (Neeson) basically being Dr. Phil for the first thirty minutes. His daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) is shacked up with a nice young lad and discovers she is pregnant. She meets with Bryan over coffee and rather than tell him she is pregnant she lies and says she wants a puppy instead. Daddy’s answer is not a good one so we cut to Bryan at his apartment and Lenore (Famke Janssen) is at the door. She and her new husband, Stuart (played this time by Dougray Scott instead of Xander Berkeley) are having problems and Lenore confesses to still having fantasies about Bryan, her first husband. That scene ends and we have another scene with Stuart paying Bryan a visit asking him to stop seeing Lenore. Bryan reluctantly agrees. This is one scene after another like we are watching a Days of Our Lives episode. I know, it is all about set up and exposition; plot devices, if you will. They all feel fake and contrived so I spent the first thirty minutes or so looking at my watch. When Lenore is found murdered in Bryan’s apartment, Taken 3 becomes nothing more than a Fugitive clone and not a very good one, at that.
Taken 3 is a bit better than Taken 2, but is not saying much. Taken 3 is preposterous in some of its plot points. One scene requires Bryan to escape the authorities by running to a nearby house and jumping into a some sort of drainage tunnel that happens to be under a garage. So apparently, in CALIFORNIA, this house sits over a drainage tunnel where this mechanic drains his oil and other fluids into the water below. How’s that for being environmentally conscious, especially in California? First off, how did our hero know this was there, to begin with? Is he psychic? There is a second scene in which Bryan needs to get Kim by herself. So he sneaks into the store where she buys her drink, intentionally puts something in it to make her sick, so she can excuse herself from her class and use the ladies room. Why couldn’t she just excuse herself by saying she was not feeling well? I mean, she is pregnant, after all. He knows which drink she will choose because of an exposition scene in the beginning of the film, but how does Bryan know she will get to it before another customer does?
Couple these scenes of indescribable stupidity with more shaky cam fight scenes that you can shake a stick at and that is what you have with Taken 3. This film is just plain dumb. It never makes any sense. Characters do things because the script requires they do certain things, not because of human nature or any real character development. The action is old and stale. Nothing in Taken 3 feels real with the exception of Maggie Grace. She is required to do some heavy grieving when he mother is killed and Grace does a good job with her character and the grieving process. Neeson does what Neeson does best, but it is all a bit cartoonish. Dougray Scott is a fine actor and it was nice to see him back on screen. He replaces Xander Berkeley, who had played Stuart in the first film. Apparently, the reason for the change was that Berkeley is 60 and could not meet the role requirements for his action scenes in Taken 3. HUH?! Neeson is 62 and has not problem with the action scenes. Nawww, Berekeley saw Taken 2 and read the script for Taekn 3 and said, “Ummm, yea…….I think I’ll pass.” Wise man. Forest Whitaker is serviceable as the man heading up the investigation into Mills. He carries around a chess piece and seems to have fun with a rubber band through most of his scenes. His explanation for how he KNEW Bryan did not really kill Lenore is laughable and just plain silly.
Taken 3 was directed by Olivier Megaton with a script penned by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. This is the same crew that brought us such milestones in film making like Transporter 3, Taken 2 and Colombiana (which was not bad, actually). They need to take a vacation and let the creative juices begin to flow again, because they running on empty. By saying Taken 3 is better than Taken 2 is not a proud moment. Taken 3 is on autopilot the whole time. There is very little that works here or even feels real and as a result Taken 3 is lazy and disappointing. Even Nathaniel Mechaly’s score for the third film is sparse, flimsy and repetitively bland. Taken 3 is assembly line garbage. “It Ends Here” ? Man, I hope so.
Taken 3- */12 out of 5
Taken 3- Rated PG-13 for violence, language and adult situations
Taken 3- Run Time is 110 minutes with an extended cut that runs 115 minutes