After leaving a trail of dead bodies in both Turkey and Istanbul, you would think we’d had enough with the “taken” formula. Sadly, Hollywood disagreed and forced upon us Taken 3, a lazily assembled film whose only goal was to gain some more green. What promised to be a change in direction for the franchise ended up being far too different. The film just didn’t feel like the films prior and it felt as though director Olivier Megaton threw this one together.
We find the Mills family at home in Los Angeles. Ex-government agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) visits his daughter on her birthday…again. Kim Mills (Maggie Grace) is now living with her boyfriend, Tim, in her own apartment. She has really grown up, although Bryan hasn’t quite seemed to get that through his head. Nonetheless, she is mostly happy to see him. Bryan is still in contact with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), and the two seem to be getting along rather well. This image of normalcy is almost immediately shattered as Bryan finds his ex-wife murdered, and himself a primary suspect in the investigation conducted by Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker). Most men would not resist arrest. If you have seen the last two films, I am sure you are aware Bryan Mills is not most men. He quickly evades the police and sets out on a quest to track down his wife’s murderer and protect his only daughter…again.
Before I rant about the many flaws in this last Taken film (Dear Lord please!), let me very quickly go through some of the better moments in the film. It is no surprise that the cast played their respective characters well. Famke Janssen played a remorseful Lenore, who was looking to divorce her second husband for Bryan. Liam Neeson, as always, played a convincingly older (read more experienced) hero, although, he was a little slow at times. Forest Whitaker is new to the franchise and was probably the best aspect of the film. He played a smart detective charged with bringing in Bryan Mills for the alleged murder of his ex-wife. Detective Dolzter kept up with Bryan’s intellect and provided some breathing room to the mundane plot. Most of the thrilling scenes were just that: thrilling. However, they didn’t quite push the envelope. The already unrealistic film, just felt more unrealistic.
Awesome! That is pretty much all I got. Ready? Okay. Taken 3 was not at all what the trailer made it out to be. Of course, I expected some similarities, however, I was promised a fresh new direction for the finale. Bryan’s fight was far more personal taking place in his home. His wife had been killed, something that he was able to prevent in the first two films. There was a real sense of loss. Not only did Bryan have to find his ex-wife’s murderer, but he had to also confront the police. Quite the challenge? Wrong. Bryan Mills is practically invincible in this third installment. Although he is rather old, Bryan handles his attackers with ease; attackers that are younger, and faster than him. Bryan also escapes countless time unrealistically from the most absurd situations. I understand he has a particular set of skills and all, but if you really want to grab an audience, throw in some real obstacles. What made the first film so captivating is how unexpectedly cunning Bryan was. Now that the audience knows Bryan’s abilities, most of everything that happens is unimpressive.
The obstacles that presented themselves involved director Olivier and how he would manage to end the Taken franchise on a good note. The pacing of the film was one of those obstacles. There were so many points in the film that felt so rushed. Certain points left me confused as to what just occurred. For example, a whole chase scene that took place on the highway was nothing but a forgettable blur. The fight scenes also felt confusing and less imaginative than they could have been.
Someone should inform the producers of the film to not get so carried away with their music budget. The film sprayed an array of songs that felt so strange in relation to the scene. It literally made me uncomfortable. The film was strongest when it relied on the score that added to the films intensity.
Taken 3 attempted to bring some weight to the franchise by bringing it home, however, it really hurt it in the end. The film rushed through the supposed tender moments, and went straight for the action. I felt myself urging the film to skip past all the emotional scenes and get on with the fighting. A film shouldn’t do this to a viewer. A film should make you care about the characters, something Taken 3 failed to do. Not only was the plot weightless, but it was also extremely predictable. Everything played out without any surprises. If the recasting of Lenore’s second husband didn’t tip you off then maybe this is your kind of film.
Overall, Taken 3 was an absolute mess, with no character, intrigue, or surprises. It really revealed how fragile this so-called franchise was. I wish they had decided to stop at the first film, arguably the strongest of the three. If you don’t mind watching stereotypical Russians and cops beaten to a pulp, Taken 3 may be a film for you.