Directed by: Olivier Megaton
When a film franchise becomes absurdly popular there is almost no point trying to form a critical opinion. ‘Taken 3’ is absolutely obliterating Oscar nominated films and making a heck of a lot of cash at the box office. As far as the movie business goes, that’s all that matters. Whenever a new ‘Taken; movie is at the cinemas, your average man and woman on the street aren’t going to take a quick look at the Rotten Tomatoes score and decided to stay at home and spend a night flicking through Netflix, they are going to go along and enjoy it for what it is. They go on the roller coaster because they want to taste the vomit in the back of their throat.
The studio behind ‘Taken 3’ is aware they have a sure-fire box office hit, and they want to keep bringing home the bacon. But how to better this? Make even more dollar dollar. This involves compromising a little by cutting out some of the blood, tapping into the family market. In a similar move to the release of ‘Expendables 3’, ‘Taken 3’ is packaged as an accessible action movie, fun for all the family. It is the kind of movie where a Dad raised on ‘Die Hard’, ‘Terminator’ and ‘Rambo’ can take along his ten year old son and not expect an ear bashing from Mum for exposing their precious boy to bloody ultra-violence. Certainly it is interesting to see how director Olivier Megaton has presented a woman with her throat cut in the most tasteful way possible and even a bit of playful water boarding.
At the beginning of ‘Taken 3’ Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills’ seems to be going through a period of relative calm. He is able to play golf with his veteran CIA colleagues, is on good terms with his ex-wife Lenore and happy that his daughter Kim is attending college and in a stable relationship. This quickly changes when Lenore is murdered. Don’t worry folks, I am not spoiling anything. Her murder was revealed in the trailers. I’m still scratching my head at that the reason for that blatant giveaway.
The sad thing for Neeson is that once again he plays a man whose wife has died. It is almost like this is written in all of his acting contracts, and somehow helps him cope with his unimaginable real life loss. I don’t want to labour too much on this point, because I’m uneasy with encroaching too much into an actors private lives.
‘Taken 3’ takes a long while to get going; when Lenore is murdered the film finally gathers pace and essentially becomes ‘The Fugitive’. Mills is pursued by Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), an inspector who will happily eat pieces of evidence, and at the end of the film claim he figured it all out, despite always being off the pace and effectively chasing shadows through the whole movie. Mills runs from the inept LAPD whilst at the same time trying to figure out who killed his wife.
What makes the movie a mess is the botches, whenever Mills is on the run, either on foot, or in a car chase, the camera work is all over the place. It is difficult to see what actually is happening. At one stage during a car chase a shipping container rolls off the back of a lorry, and what should be an absolutely terrifying action sequence is thrown away by shoddy camera work.
When ‘Taken 4’ is no doubt released in a couple of years’ time, people will still flock to see it. But who knows, maybe the ‘Taken’ franchise will get better, in a similar way to how the ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise has been revived. A new director and a few new characters could give Bryan Mills a second wind. As for now all I can say is that ‘Taken 3’ is a flaccid action movie and the worst in the franchise by far.