“You’re always saying I’m so predictable”
The Taken films are synonymous with mediocrity and mundanity. Some might even call them “awful.” To me, the first Taken was Commando without the quips and lightheartedness, or the first season of 24 condensed into an hour and a half of hard to decipher action scenes. The second Taken was a repeat, a sequel only agreed to in a boardroom to capitalize on the surprise success of the first one. The third one is also the product of a boardroom; although no one is ‘taken’ until the closing moments, it follows the formula of all the Taken films so far. So it’s mundane at best, but even its attempts to add another equation to the formula push it into an absurd atrocity of film. And I do not use that phrase lightly. There’s barely any positives about the film. Liam Neeson doesn’t even die at the end, so there’s the possibility of another Taken film…
Firstly, for a film that’s primarily based on action, the action is incredibly hard to follow. The Bourne films kicked off the trend of quick cuts in action scenes, which are meant to enhance the pulse-pounding thrill of the gunfight/car chase etc. However, what it does do in effect is make the action harder to follow. Think back to the car chase that starts off Quantum of Solace: on repeated viewing, I still find it difficult to follow what’s happening. The first two Taken films suffered from the same problem, but Taken 3 takes it to another level. As soon as action is even hinted at, the transitions come thick and fast. It’s a barrage of multiple angles that make the action impossible to comprehend. How did he take that guy out? Where is he now? What is he doing? All questions I asked myself about Bryan Mills as he went about his business. Where’s the enjoyment in an action film if you can’t appreciate the action?
I couldn’t point out a single action scene that even raised my pulse a little. Notwithstanding the frenetic editing, all the fight scenes blended into one scene of Mills easily taking out the bad guys. The only time he appeared to be in danger was a gunfight with the Russian, but that seemed to be more about shooting up the Russian’s massive apartment than anything else. It all was so…boring. Nothing made me go “wow!”
“I’m going down the rabbit hole”
Of course, the plot is always secondary to the action in an action film, but Taken 3 really took the biscuit. In an effort to make things less predictable, the film went through twist after twist after twist, almost in a Saw-like unravelling on the plot. Mills’ ex-wife, Lenore, is murdered and Mills is framed for it. At first, he thinks Lenore’s husband, Stuart, is behind it. But then he thinks an evil Russian (are there any good Russians in US action films?!?!?), Malenkhov, is behind it. And then…I don’t want to spoil it for you, but even before the halfway mark, the film is very convoluted and unbelievable. In an effort to make the film different from 1 and 2, it not only falls into the same flaws as the first two but becomes even more ridiculous.
To me, Bryan Mills has always been a boring protagonist. There’s nothing to him, even in a superficial way. Neeson murmers through his lines as if he can’t be bothered in Taken 3; and he probably couldn’t be bothered. He was just thinking of the numbers. Without sympathy or compassion, he rings his daughter about her mum’s murder and says “Something terrible has happened.” As was Famke Jansen, who utters clichéd lines like “Only thing I feel is trapped” and the more laughable “Do you fantasise about us?” to Bryan. Dougray Scott, being British, has to be a villain of sorts. And, of course, a dull villain. The less said about Forest Whittaker’s detective the better. His quirks of playing with an elastic band and holding a chess piece tell us all we need to know about him, apparently. Because we learn nothing else. Oh, and he eats bagels from the crime scene of Lenore’s murders, because that wouldn’t tamper with evidence or anything like that…
Taken 3 fails as a film on every level. Characters, script and the plot feel like something from a poorly conceived and executed TV movie. Even taken purely as an action film, it fails. The action is hard to follow, and worse, boring. I thought I had reached the nadir of films with Taken. But then came Taken 2. However, Taken 3 takes the victory. Of course, it’s easy to criticise Taken 3. But that’s the fun of it, isn’t it? There was no other enjoyment to be had. I did try to find positives, but it was almost impossible.
VERDICT: 2/10. Just a terrible, terrible film. Avoid!