Taken 3 Review

Taken 3 (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

Director: Olivier Megaton (as Olivier Mégaton)
Writers: Luc Besson,  Robert Mark Kamen
Stars: Liam Neeson,  Forest Whitaker,  Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott

Taken 3 is rumoured to be the final installment in the trilogy of the franchise and the concluding chapter somewhat abandons its original idea, intent and formula and instead makes a DIET “The Fugitive (1993)” The Taken series no longer aims the straightforward formula or the context of the original. Don’t get me wrong while it’s still pretty fun to watch Neeson doing his best as Brian Mills, as an action hero, the movie somehow losses the senses of his character.

Mills used to be a clever guy who was always four or five steps ahead of everyone who could get out of any situation with careful, calculating precision. In this instalment he appears to be going out his way basically to make everyone’s accusation of him as a criminal even worse. He just couldn’t do the simple things, his actions always have to unreasonably lead from one disaster to the next. At least in the previous movies we can understand why he strikes his enemies without any remorse. In Taken 3, he comes off looking like the villain who just does things without reason, out of character and clumsy, in spite of his good intentions.

The movie has to go through all of these reasons to make it a lot exciting. There are some action sequences that look great and are shot spectacularly those sequences, but the fast paced editing hurts every action scene, unable to focus in many of its angles, making It harder to follow and can even cause motion sickness in the same way some video games do this.

Taken 3 should have been the topping finale to an excellent franchise with the first class cast who signed up. With the original Neeson, Janssen and Grace carrying the story forward and the addition of the brilliant Forest Whitaker (playing his version of Tommy Lee Jones “Sam Gerard”) and Dougray Scott replacing Xander Berkeley as Stuart, husband to Lenore (Famke Janssen)

As an actor, Liam Neeson hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the role of Brian Mills, at least, but his talent deserves better than what the movie has done to itself. Taken 3 is a rather difficult thing to experience, not because it has a excellent and complex story, but because of its lacking consistency. Taken and Taken 2 consist of the same actors and storylines link together well with the first sequel having a knock on effect with the events of the first and original. The action looks larger and stylish than before but it still doesn’t make for a good replacement.

Forest Whitaker is always a good addition to the movie and does make it a little better, but even he, the ever suspicious FBI detective, tend to just follow Brian Mills around and then proclaims he knew all along what happened because the bagels were still warm. Give me strength.

One of the biggest disappointments was how little screen time Famke Janssen is given and is promptly killed off at the beginning of the movie for the films basis. Now, hold up this isn’t a spoiler so don’t be having a go at me. On the movies original trailer release it was surprisingly revealed and shockingly exposed that Lenore was being killed off. Before I went to see the movie in the cinema the basis of this film left me a little depressed that after everything Brian went through in Taken 2 to ensure his family was safe in Istanbul was quickly removed in the third instalments opening 15 minutes….yes, 15 Minutes.

Maggie Grace as Kim begins to really show her age. In the original she barely passed for a teen, but in the sequels she shows more of her age. A convincing college girl now?  I have to say she was possibly the weakest actor in the movie. Maggie Grace  reprises her role here but since Famke Janssen’s character dies very early at the movie’s beginning, Grace has the added burden of carrying the movie opposite Neeson but falls under the weight of the expectation levels of a character who previously was the “Damsel in Distress”

Dougray Scott replacing Xander Berkeley as Stuart St. John. Here is the link and only link to the previous movies. It was mentioned in the 2008 original film that’s Stuart had some dealings with Russian businessmen and nothing more was said or implied in that conversation. Here Besson and Kamen’s use this as a vehicle for the movies badguys but with a twist at the end which I will not spoil. Dougray Scott, who like Neeson and Whitaker also is much better than the material he’s often given, he tries to make it as the grieving widowed husband with more to him than meets the eye.

Director Olivier Megaton uses a Jason Bourne style of hyper fast edits for the action scenes but they actually come across rather cheaply and messy. Megaton relies on multiple cameras to capture the action throughout the 109 minutes.The film lacks the  energy and action of the first two films. Too often the film halts for deep emotional scenes or plot exposition. To be honest Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s screen writing skills have not been severely tested in this instalment in the franchise.

The movie wasn’t the greatest but it wasn’t the worst either. It was just a run of the mill adventure movie with Neeson that has distanced itself not on purpose from the rest of the franchise. Unfortunately Taken 3 looks like the cash in to complete the trilogy with a quickly knocked off and poor script, which is a pity as it could have been a flawless trilogy we would all be talking about in years to come.

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