Twitter Plot Summary: Bryan Mills is back for one last installment of the Taken franchise, using his particular set of skills to solve the murder of his ex-wife.
It’s back to the same old routine for Liam Neeson in Taken 3, an almost totally unnecessary sequel that has Bryan Mills once more using those particular set of skills in order to protect his daughter from some generic bad guys. Much like Taken 2, it suffers from a heavy 12A edit that, whilst not quite as laughably bad as Mills practically hugging someone to death in the 12A cut of Taken 2, still renders it a mostly ineffectual action thriller.
With all plot points from the previous plot now severed, Mills’ particular set of skills have apparently transitioned into the culinary arts as he manages to successfully slice up some bell peppers at the start of the movie. His ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) pops over frequently to chat about her relationship woes with Dougray Scott’s Stuart St John, and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace, not as irritating as previous entries) is now settled into a regular life – despite the trauma of her previous experiences – and discovers early on that she is pregnant. Soon though, Lenore is found murdered in Mills’ apartment and he goes on the run from the authorities whilst attempting to clear his name. This might sound moderately exciting stuff, but it isn’t.
The script has some fun with both the conventions of the genre, calling back to previous entries in the series (the words “Good luck” are used effectively), and the odd action sequence works well, such as Mills storming the bad guy’s posh suite, but the majority of the time it feels like the series has gone at least one film too far, pushing an initially good idea beyond breaking point.
The other problem (or perhaps the canny casting) of Douglas Scott is that you know instantly that he’s going to be a bad guy – it’s just the way it is. That leaves you distracted for much of the story, knowing that eventually he’s going to do something dastardly. And, inevitably, he does despite a couple of attempts at distracting away from his inherent destiny of becoming the big bad.
On the plus side (and it’s a very small plus side), we finally get to see Mills and his team of special ops types in action, even if their involvement is ultimately paper thin. Neeson seems to be reaching the end of his brief career as an action star, if Taken 2 didn’t prove the point already. Meanwhile Olivier Megaton directs with all the verve of somebody with a nervous twitch. The action sequences are obscured by shaky-cam, the performances frequently stifled by the camera being placed too close to the actors and wobbled around.
Forest Whitaker makes the most of his role as the police inspector investigating the murder, although you can’t help but feel the character would have benefitted from being fleshed out in a more competent action film. He’s an interesting inclusion nonetheless, even if he comes from an ever-growing stable of quirky cinematic lawmen, in this case obsessed with a chess piece (a knight, no less) and an elastic band. There’s probably some context there if you go looking for it.
The Blu-Ray and DVD release will no doubt add a few elements that will make it a slightly more bearable viewing experience (like showing blood and some proper violence), but Taken 3 remains a badly executed idea and a disappointing, anti-climactic end to the series – if they let it end with this one of course.