Movie Review: 'Taken 3'

(Photo: 20th Century FOX)

Movie Review: 'Taken 3'

For Liam Neeson to sign on for the third installment of Taken, he wanted no one to be "taken."

Published January 9, 2015

For Liam Neeson to sign on for the third installment of Taken , he wanted no one to be "taken." Hmmm ... so Taken with no one taken? That would be like The Exorcist with no exorcist. Cabin in the Woods with no cabin in the woods. Nightmare on Elm Street with no nightmares. Taken 3 ultimately blunders because there isn't enough of the Taken that audiences loved and made a box office smash.

Maybe the lack of someone being taken is the only direction Olivier Megaton (he didn't direct the first and most successful Taken ) felt the film could go. How many times can Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills rescue his family with his MacGyver-ish talents? It might be ludicrous to do it a third time, however, from the start, Taken in 2008 was ridiculous. But the movie was fun, action-packed and smartly stuck to a formula for 90 quick minutes. This Taken shakes up the formula, totals 109 minutes and takes itself too seriously.

Part of the success of first two was playing on the fears of traveling out of the country. Many wondered, "Could that happen to me or family?" Playing on fears is a major ingredient of a successful thriller. The third time around includes none of those thrills, everything is based in Los Angeles and it's just another flick about a man trying to save his family. Liam Neeson is still as charismatic as ever, but even he couldn't make the drab script work like he did with Non-Stop and The Grey .

Taken 3 includes Oscar winner Forest Whitaker in a role he could play in an Ambien-induced sleep. He is the detective on the hunt for Bryan Mills, who was framed for the murder of his wife. Most of Whitaker and Neeson's scenes take place via phone, missing an opportunity for the two phenomenal actors to have a great moment on screen. Maggie Grace as Bryan's daughter is the same damsel in distress as the previous installments. Famke Janssen is his ex-wife who is killed off within the first 30 minutes.

Taken is known for eye-popping and somewhat gory action sequences. But Megaton's obsession with shaky cam effects and frantic editing sucks the enjoyment out of the action.  Gone are the unique ways Mills squeezed himself out of near death experiences — with the exception of a car crash scene that is wildly implausible, even for the Taken franchise.

For the close to the franchise, fans would've loved to see an epic battle between the criminals and Bryan Mills.  Instead, Taken 3 only proved the third time is rarely a charm for action films.

Taken 3 is in theaters now.

Written by Clay Cane


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