Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Movie Review: Taken 3

Taken 3
Directed by: Olivier Megaton.
Written by: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen.
Starring: Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills), Forest Whitaker (Franck Dotzler), Famke Janssen (Lenore St. John), Maggie Grace (Kim Mills), Dougray Scott (Stuart St. John), Sam Spruell (Oleg Malankov), Don Harvey (Garcia), Dylan Bruno (Smith), Leland Orser (Sam (Gilroy)), David Warshofsky (Bernie (Harris)), Jon Gries ((Mark) Casey), Jonny Weston (Jimy), Andrew Borba (Clarence), Judi Beecher (Claire), Andrew Howard (Maxim).

I have a problem completely giving up on movie series once I’ve started them – even if I didn’t the original very much. Yeah, unlike the last two Taken movies, I skipped Taken 3 in theaters, and then waited a few weeks after it arrived for home viewing before I went back to watch the further adventures of Bryan Mills and his family, but in the end, I couldn’t resist. I don’t know why exactly – unlike most, I didn’t really like the original Taken very much – and like most, I hated Taken 2 even more. So, I wasn’t really looking forward to Taken 3, but I watched it anyway. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s better than Taken 2 – which was god-awful. The worse thing I can say is that it wasn’t that much better. This is still a rather silly action franchise that has somehow become a hit, and continues to draw in audiences – and is responsible for turning star Liam Neeson into an action star as he nears 60. So it’s responsible for all the bad Liam Neeson action movies since Taken came out in 2008 – but it’s also responsible for the good ones, like The Grey and A Walk Among the Tombstones, so there’s that.

Neeson had originally said there would not be a Taken 3, because no one else could be taken, because it would be ridiculous. He was right about that – and apparently producer and co-writer Luc Besson agreed, so no one is actually taken in Taken 3. Instead what happens is that his beloved ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) – after confessing to Bryan about her troubled marriage, and her feelings for him – is found murdered in his apartment, with Bryan, of course, being the only logical suspect. In the time honored tradition of every innocent man accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Bryan doesn’t go in with the police willing, hire and lawyer, and prove his innocence that way. No, instead he beats up a bunch of cops, and takes off into the streets to prove his innocence. His beloved daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace – who is 31 in real life, and still playing a University student in these movies, I think because while the span of time in real life has been 7 years, it’s supposed to be much more compressed in the world of the movies), believes him – as does his ragtag group of mercenary friends. The LAPD is on his trail though – led by Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), who knows Bryan may well be innocent (because of a bagel – don’t ask), but needs to bring him in anyway. Of course, there is a grand conspiracy out to get Bryan – involving some Eastern European bad asses – but not the ones he has already spent two movies killing, but an entirely different set.

The director is once again Olivier Megaton, who still hasn’t quite figured out how to direct a coherent action sequence, despite a lot of practice. There is a lot of hand-to-hand combat, gun fights, car chases, etc. throughout Taken 3, all done with shaky camera work that obscures everything, and never lets the film settle into a groove. Neeson’s Mills is once again an indestructible superman – even more so than in the previous movies – as nothing can apparently kill him – or even slow him down. He’s got too much to do, too many bad guys to kill for that.

What makes Taken 3 even worse is the sense that everyone involved in the movies have stopped caring. I didn’t like the first movie – but at least it was trying. Hell, even the second movie seemed to embrace its own silliness in a strange way, even if it didn’t work. Here, everyone is on autopilot. It’s not has eye-roll inducing as Taken 2 was – which too its silliness too far. Instead, it’s just kind of there, going through the motions. I hope there isn’t a Taken 4 – although, I have a feeling I know who will be in trouble if they do make it. And sadly, I’ll probably still watch it.

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