12th Jan2015

‘Taken 3’ Review

by Ian Loring

Stars: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Don Harvey, Dylan Bruno, David Warshofsky, Jon Gries, Andrew Borba, Judi Beecher, Andrew Howard, Catherine Oyer, Jimmy Palumbo | Written by Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen | Directed by Olivier Megaton


In some ways, Taken became the little franchise that could. Kicking off in 2009, it was marketed and released as a fairly mid-level actioner with few ambitions other than to not lose money. Its US theatrical release only happened because of the weird pop-culture zeitgeist it captured where people were excited about Oscar Schindler punching Eastern Europeans out of existence. The sequel came and made even more money with its 12a rating proving controversial but meeting distributor Twentieth Century Fox’s aim of making a massive haul of cash, taking over £20 million at the UK box office alone. Liam Neeson and previous instalment director Oliver Megaton are back with another chilling look at how a man’s obsession with his family can lead to him becoming a killer. But this time, Forest Whittaker follows him and eats evidence.

Taken 3 easily could have had Neeson on the run from the law for the myriad crimes he’d committed on his past cinematic adventures but no, this time he appears to have killed an American woman and this is all it takes to get him on the law’s bad side. The first two films had plots which felt very simple in their a to b approach but this time convolution takes hold. While the true bad guy is clear from pretty much that character’s first line, the film adds in a gang of Eastern Europeans with bald heads and bad accents for no real reason other than keeping up a strange element of the franchise’s continuity in its inclusion of punchable people from that area of the world. Pretty much all these people are murdered before the real wrong ‘un decides to try and do some fighting of his own and is rubbish at it. He also has very bad hearing, in one scene Neeson appears to materialise in front of him without any realisation at all.

This aspect also nicely ties into another aspect of Taken 3, its high level of incoherence, both in plot and execution. Why characters do the things they do here make little sense and although much of this leads to some good chuckles, it does feel like screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen literally cobbled it together in a night involving whiskey and strippers. Never before have warm bagels and a peach yoghurt drink been vital plot elements but they manage it here, which is a strange sort of success.

This also ties into the 12a-infication of this instalment. It is hard to tell how much is just poor direction but often times it is genuinely difficult to understand how people are killed. The murder which kicks off the plot apparently involves a throat slitting which has caused no blood to be running all over the place at all and until someone actually said, you would think it were a drug overdose or something like this. When another character is tortured with a gun being pressed into a bullet hole, there is no blood at all but the screaming involved certainly makes up for it. It is a surreal bloodless world where people scream and die but it almost appears to be in their minds as if Neeson has now become Freddy Kreuger. This aspect also leads to the most pathetic 12a f-bomb you will ever hear.

Take this from someone who doesn’t mind the first two films, who was looking forward somewhat to this. Taken 3 is a low point for mainstream action cinema but from a film construction point of view it is somewhat fascinating and the unintentionally funny moments keep engagement levels up for the wrong reasons. Oh dear.

* 1/5


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