Taken 3 (2014) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Taken 3 (2014)

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Bryan Mills thought he would be able to reconcile with his ex-wife and daughter after so much trauma.  But just when it seems he and his wife are about to reconnect, she is murdered and left for him to find just as the police kick into his apartment.  Bryan returns to the hunt in Taken 3, starring Liam Neeson and directed by Olivier Megaton.

Weaponized corpseLiam Neeson in the past 7 years has created his own film genre of old badass wreaking havoc on bad guys. Many other older actors have tried to copy his formula for good (John Travolta in From Paris With Love) to bad (Pierce Brosnan in The November Man) but none have captured lighting in the bottle like Neeson. He has battled wolves (the wonderful film The Grey), amnesia (Unknown) and in the sky (Non-Stop) but his biggest series has always been Taken. The first Taken was a low-budget action film that did what it did really well and had a hook (“I have a certain set of skills”) that made it easy to promote/advertise. Everyone loved Neeson punching bad guys in the throat for around 2 hours and Taken was a hit. Taken 2 opened even bigger a few years later and ending up grossing around the same amount even if it wasn’t nearly as fun so we of course now have Taken 3.

This time the movie gets rid of the kidnapping plot and does a generic retread of The Fugitive where Neeson as Bryan Mills is framed for the murder of his ex-wife. Pretty soon, Mills is on the run in LA with stupid and inept detectives on his trail. The one person who seems to have any idea of what to do is Franck Dotzler, the head of the task force that is supposed to bring him in. Franck is played by Forest Whitaker who could easily do this role in his sleep. All that is required of him is to walk from crime scene to crime scene and talk to Neeson on the phone. Thankfully Whitaker adds a bit of flair to the character and makes him interesting even though the movie never really gives him any back stories for his quirks. After the movie I wanted to know what was with the chess piece he always had in his hand and if he is always a connoisseur of crime scene bagels but alas those are questions that are never answered. While Whitaker does add a bit of life to the movie, he has done a dogged cop better in the past with the best example being his wonderful performance in season four of The Shield.

Skip Whitaker's police work here and go straight to The Shield.

Skip Whitaker's police work here and go straight to The Shield.

The one thing that has worked in the Taken series is Bryan Mills in an interesting character and all of that good will is thankfully not used up by this installment. The way that Neeson plays the character straight but still knows that the idea of a 60-year-old wrecking crew is silly works really well for the character. It is fun but doesn’t go to over the top. The weird relationship with his daughter Kim who he treats like she is 10 when she is actually 20 is always amusing too. What makes it even more amusing is the 20-year-old is played by 32-year-old that looks at least that old. The other thing that I liked in the film was Mills used his team a bit more in this movie since he is based in LA so you get glimpses of how awesome a Taken team movie could be with not one old man punching people in the face but FOUR of them doing it.

Those are the good things about Taken 3 and now it is on to the bad, which there are many. The first and biggest issue with the movie was the directing. The director, Olivier Megaton, might have the best name in the business his directing is awful. The whole movie is filled with quick cuts, jittery footage and weird camera angles. This makes the action scenes incomprehensible and I had no idea what was going on during the car chase. This is bad enough but you expect badly shot action scenes from this style of director but when Neeson is having a conversation and the cuts come faster than I can process and his face is in EXTREME CLOSE UP, it becomes a parody of a movie.

Another big problem with the movie was the script had more filler in it than actual story. I feel the screenwriters had the idea of Neeson being on the run in LA but no reason why so they just watched The Fugitive repeatedly while writing the screenplay. The sad truth is that after the first 15 minutes or so after he is framed, there is NO reason for him to avoid the police. He uncovers enough evidence to clear his name prettily easily but instead of giving the police the evidence and not having to worry about being “underground” he keeps the evidence to himself and is constantly evading/beating up the police.

Neeson still charms, why not make Taken 4 a comedy of errors where David keeps killing people on accident?

Neeson still charms, why not make Taken 4 a comedy of errors where Bryan keeps killing people on accident?

Another HUGE disservice the script does is makes the Russian villain a non-factor in the movie. They build him up to be the Russian, evil version of Mills and then do NOTHING with him in the movie at all. He disappears through all the 2nd act when Mills is beating up cops only to show up again in the 3rd act with very little to do. It reminds me a lot of Spider-man 3 when they got a great actor in Thomas Haden Church to play Sandman only for him to disappear for most of the middle part of the movie. This should have been about Mills meeting his match and the audience not knowing if or how Mills would win. That would have been a good movie, but instead the villains are pushed to the side in service of a “twist” than anyone that has ever seen a movie could see coming from the first 10 minutes of the film.

It is a shame that Taken 3 falls so flat because there is some life in the franchise. Unlike Die Hard 5 where everyone was sleepwalking through the movie, the main actors were still giving it there all and this is not the way that this franchise should end. Bryan Mills is one of the best action characters of the last 10 years and we now know that the only thing that can stop him is not crime syndicates or bullets but awful direction and a bad screenplay.

Tail - Taken 3Taken 3 (2014)

Directed by Olivier Megaton.
Screenplay written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.
Starring Liam Neeson.

Posted by Ryan

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