UK Release Date: 8th January 2015
Runtime: 109 minutes
Director: Olivier Megaton
Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Sam Spruell, Dougray Scott
Synopsis: Bryan Mills finds himself on the wrong side of the law and a fugitive on the run when he is framed for the sudden murder of his ex-wife.
Liam Neeson’s incredible journey from heavyweight character actor to bona fide action hero is one of the more baffling career trajectories in modern Hollywood. At the epicentre of his rise to shooter stardom is the Taken franchise, which is back in cinemas once again with threequel Taken 3 – which is stretching the concept a little too far.
Bryan Mills (Neeson) is enjoying the normal life, visiting his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and living alone. He is visited by ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who confirms that she still has feelings for Bryan, much to the annoyance of her new husband Stuart (Dougray Scott). Soon after, Lenore is found murdered, with Bryan the prime suspect and cop Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) on the case.
Taken 3, quite clearly, was required to move the narrative structure away from the format of the first two films. Another kidnapping would stretch credibility beyond belief, so writer Luc Besson – free of the creativity that made last year’s Lucy a delight – opts to place Bryan Mills at the heart of a murder mystery as a wanted fugitive.
| "They’re all gonna come for you. They’ll find you. And they’ll stop you."
Liam Neeson, who brought such energy to the first film in the Taken franchise, looks like even he has given up on Taken 3 by the halfway point. Bryan Mills is now empty of all of the impressively macho charisma that made the first film work and is instead content to growl his lines enough to cash in the cheque at the end of the day.
Lacking the same level of despondent restraint is director Olivier Megaton, who directs with the attention span of a child who has eaten a few too many of the blue Smarties. Any attempt at action scene coherence is quickly rendered pointless by Megaton’s hyperactive camera. It’s impossible to know where everyone is in the frame and it’s tough to know who is killing and who is being killed. A chaotic freeway pile-up, in particular, is an incomprehensible mess.
It’s clear that it isn’t just Neeson who doesn’t want to be making Taken 3. In fact, the entire supporting cast seems to be phoning in too. Forest Whitaker, especially, plays the most ineffectual cop since Live and Let Die. He is full of quirks, from twirling elastic bands to cradling chess pieces, which act as an enigmatic smokescreen to hide the complete lack of a discernible character.
| "I know you know a lot of people."
But this is all without mentioning the fact that, above all else, Taken 3 simply is not interesting at all. For at least 90% of the runtime, action-packed set pieces included, Taken 3 is an utter snoozefest. None of the characters have any personality worth rooting for and it all left me aching for the simple, effective thrills of Non-Stop.
Pop or Poop?
It’s becoming increasingly common to call for the end of a franchise after yet another turgid sequel. Surely it’s time someone, with a particular set of skills, found the Taken franchise and killed it.
Olivier Megaton’s exuberant direction is the noisy child to Liam Neeson’s knackered parent of a performance. Everyone involved seems tired of the same old shtick. Neeson is definitely too old for this shit.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.