Taken 3 (2015)
Life in the Mills family is never easy. After surviving two previous kidnappings, Brian (Liam Neeson) now finds that his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) has been brutally murdered. Framed for the crime, goes on the run from the Police, in an attempt to discover the true perpetrator and clear his name. Is Lenore's current partner, Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott) involved in some way? Can Brian protect his pregnant daughter Kim (Maggie Grace)? Has he ever stopped to consider why so many bad things happen to him? Why wasn’t this movie set in Europe like the others? What happens to the huge cuddly Panda seen at the start of the movie? Who in the name of all that is holy edited this movie?
There's no denying it Taken 3 (or Taken to the Cleaners as I like to call it) is a loud, insanely edited, contrived and downright stupid movie. Once again, just like it’s immediate predecessor, it feels like a bad soap opera for the first thirty minutes until the action kicks in. As before there are two versions of the film available; a PG-13 cut where the fights and set pieces are lightning edited to the point of confusion. Then there’s an unrated edition with a more graphic body count that uses alternative material. The plot and dialogue are often risible with numerous plot holes, to the point that its almost becomes self-parody. At one-point Brian Mills kills two henchmen with a defibrillator, begging the question why wasn't it used in an attempt to resuscitate the screenplay? Yet despite its utter mediocrity, headache inducing visual style and overall stupidity, I still enjoyed Taken 3. That doesn't pardon its sins in anyway. I just find Liam Neeson compelling to watch, even in a movie such as this. He has a very humane, even avuncular quality about him. But an uncle who is also a bit of a sociopath.
Director Oliver Megaton is a very inconsistent film maker. Previous movies such as Colombiana and The Transporter 3 have been more than serviceable. Yet more recent titles such as Taken 2 and Taken 3 are lacking in polish. In this latest instalment the even the ever-dependable Forest Whitaker is left with precious little to do as the Police Inspector tracking down Brian Mills. He tries to bring embellishments to the character, such as his habit of wearing rubber bands around the wrists and carrying a solitary chess piece, but there simply isn't enough material for him to work with. Sam Spruell similarly has a vague role, as Malankov, the villain of the proceedings. Both these actors are potential assets to the movie, but Megaton simply neglects them, focusing more of unnecessary chases and CGI effects.
A Walk Among the Tombstones proved that Liam Neeson can still produce quality performances when given a well written screenplay. He is a good actor and a genuine screen presence. It is the latter attribute that allows him to bluff his way through such unmitigated nonsense as Taken 3. I won't deny that I had fun watching the film (the unrated version naturally), although that was mainly due to my revelling in its iniquities and failings. However, I do recognise that if you are not as forgiving towards Mr. Neeson as I am, then all you will see if a crass, overcooked action movie starring an ageing Irish man who seems nice in-between breaking people’s limbs.