A lot has been said about sub-par, unnecessary sequels, and thanks to Taken 3, a whole lot more is going to be said again. Most of it being very inappropriate to the PG-13 crowd that director Olivier Megaton is so clearly pandering to with this ludicrously bloodless, senseless and useless threequel. While the script by producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen is a hodge podge of cheap knock-off ideas from other far superior action thrillers, it at least had the decency to realize that the franchise’s titular gag is now all played out. Yes, nobody is actually “taken” in this movie (unless you count the 110 minutes that has been taken from my life and which I will never get back).

DM-03656 – Liam Neeson and Forest Whitaker in TAKEN 3.

Instead Taken 3 finds Liam Neeson’s now obviously creaky human siege weapon Bryan Mills on the run from the law in the US of A after being framed for the murder of his ex-wife. Or put another way: this is the story of the world’s most violent dad trying to prove his innocence by doing everything he can to look guilty. It would appear that logic is not in Mills’ particular set of skills.

A set of skills that helmer Megaton is hell-bent on not actually showing you, as his camera crashes around the room like the entire set is stuck in a permanent state of violent seismic upheaval. This herky-jerky cinematography was annoying in Taken 2, but here it’s approaching absurdity.

TKN3-002 —  Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in TAKEN 3.

Speaking of the absurd, there are two miraculous vehicle escapes in this movie that are so steeped in ridiculousness that they would feel more at home in a low-brow parody (Not Another Liam Neeson Movie: The Movie!). And they’re not even the worst things to be found in this 110 minutes of cinematic slurry. No, that cake has already been… taken… by a highway car chase so sloppily shot, edited and choreographed that it should be used as a teaching aid for how to not to stage an action sequence. Cars are both supernaturally durable and feather-light so as to just shrug off collisions with trucks one instant with nary a dent and then go cartwheeling through the air at the slightest breeze in the next. Megaton also has zero idea how to capture the geography of a scene, as cars overtake, stop, turn around, flip-flop and do whatever the hell they want with no logical relation to each other and their surroundings.

The film’s music score also doesn’t help matters, alternating between being either grievously out-of-place, or overbearing to the point of distraction. The plot is basically just a hackneyed ripoff of The Fugitive – complete with a sewer tunnel escape! – but instead of  a one-armed man we have a one-dimensional, cliched Russian baddie. And instead of Tommy Lee Jones and his hen-houses, dog-houses and out-houses, we have a criminally wasted Forrest Whittaker whose Inspector Frank Dotzler shows up with inexplicable fetish for rubber bands and not much else. So too Maggie Grace’s 30-going-on-18 Kim, daughter of Mills and muse for most of his violence, and Dougray Scott’s Stuart St. John, Kim’s wealthy step-dad with the porn star name, also don’t bring much to the table.

TKN3-052 —  Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace in TAKEN 3.

Even Neeson himself comes across as just tired here, robbed of his trademark gruff intensity through a combination of lacklustre writing and a lack of on-screen blood so severe as to be comical. This is a movie where people get shot point-blank in the face and have less blood to show for it than the average papercut. I’m not asking for sets to be transformed into Jackson Pollock paintings of crimson viscera, but when you can’t work out whether a main character is dead or unconscious because their “bullet wounds” look no more damaging than mosquito bites, it becomes a problem.

But as much as it’s raising my bile, Taken 3 isn’t all bad. There is one bright shining light that comes out of all of this: Liam Neeson and Olivier Megaton have said that this is the last film. And thank the gods for that, as this franchise, which begun its life so incredibly with Pierre Morel’s Taken, now desperately needs to be taken… out back and shot.

DF-14988_R – Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills in TAKEN 3.

Last Updated: January 14, 2015

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Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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