Taken 3 (2015)
Release Date: January 9th, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Olivier Megaton Actors: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott, Leland Orser
aken 3” wisely opts out of rehashing the kidnapping plotline of its predecessors. However, rather than jumping into unexplored territory, the film retreads several other prominent action movie staples. What could have been a revivifying direction for the series instead becomes a copycat of the common “wrong man” (or frame job) style of mystery, closely recalling 1993’s “The Fugitive.” At least, the creators have borrowed from one of the best. Meanwhile, distracting editing attempts to mask the lack of creativity in the action choreography, the antagonists go to unreasonable lengths to appear hardhearted, and the one-man-army protagonist can inexplicably survive any ordeal with barely a scratch. But that last part is an expected element – and some of the charm – of the genre.
Former government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) must once again use his particular set of skills to contend with a deadly crisis. When his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) is murdered – and he’s framed for the crime – Bryan is forced to go on the run. Hunted by calculating police inspector Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), the resourceful fugitive must elude both the police and deadly Russian assassins while attempting to piece together the clues that will lead him to the truth.
It begins with villains doing villainous things, simply to establish what audiences can already assume about such thugs, before seguing into a rather extended focus on familial drama. Although the relationship problems with Lenore and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) aren’t unusual, the path the rest of the movie takes deviates greatly from the previous two chapters. Surprisingly (and thankfully), no one gets kidnapped. Also, Bryan never even leaves California. His gang of ex-spooks is reassembled for a wider scope of duties (quite a few moments are made complex just to utilize unnecessary black ops stuff, including a poisoned yogurt concept that seems laughably unwarranted), catchphrases are awkwardly worked into the script, and Whitaker is employed as a determined detective, interested solely in apprehending Mills – guilty or innocent. Though amusing, this addition is far too similar to “The Fugitive’s” Samuel Gerard (played by Tommy Lee Jones); and Bryan winds up becoming a correspondingly familiar fugitive himself (conducting “Mission: Impossible” endeavors to boot).
Neeson becomes less believable as an action star as every year passes, even though his age and physicality make him an admirably atypical combatant. Extra bits of frenetic editing, thumping music, and visual obstructions continue to obscure the stunts, chases, and shootouts, as if to poorly hide the possibility that he’s unable to do all the heavy-hitting work himself. The escapes and stealthy endeavors similarly keep diminishing, with explosions and chaos substituting intelligent sleuthing.
Further supplementing the easy route of adventure, the opposing law enforcement is unrealistically hot on Bryan’s trail or caught in his snare, getting manipulated or bested repeatedly, usually thanks to convenient alterations in normal situations – such as a lack of gated separation between the front and back seats of a squad car, or helter-skelter pursuits across crowded highways, with shots being fired all over the place (including at police cruisers by officers, while other policemen are still inside). Nevertheless, there’s a refreshing self-awareness to most of the action and dialogue, imparting not only a modicum of immunity to the criticism of over-the-top fashioning, but also a sense of humor that marks many serious events as undeniably humorous. As far as cheesy action movies go, viewers could do a lot worse than “Taken 3.”
– The Massie Twins