Friday, January 9, 2015

Movie Review: 'Taken 3'

Taken 3
** out of 5
109 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and for brief strong language
20th Century Fox

Article originally published at The Reel Place.

Well, we didn’t ask for a remake of The Fugitive — which we all know was a big screen adaptation of a TV show to begin with — yet that’s exactly what Taken 3 is. While originality isn’t necessarily what we want when watching  a Luc Besson movie, they could at  least be a little more sly about it. When we see Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills character finding his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) dead on his bed, chased by police, and finally, making an escape into the sewer system, there’s obviously going to be a case of deja vu. If only they’d had the cajones to have Forest Whitaker’s Inspector Franck Dotzler follow him to the edge of a water spout, it could have been a chance to poke direct fun at The Fugitive. But even in that case, Leslie Nielsen did that way back in 1998 with Wrongfully Accused.

In this third installment of the surprisingly successful series — even if the box office had already sputtered with Taken 2 — it’s a good thing this is the last. The original was a surprise success, but we all know what that means in Hollywood: “Greenlight a sequel!” And if there’s one thing studio heads love even more, it’s a trilogy. So alas, now we find Bryan Mills dealing with his estranged wife, stuck in a marriage on the verge of divorce to Stuart St John (Dougray Scott), while the two exes try to keep their kindling feelings from crossing any lines. There’s also a subplot about their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) finding out she’s pregnant which gets brought up in only two scenes. Talk about filler. Meanwhile, Bryan is on the run from the police, trying to find the vicious ’80s-reject super-killer Oleg Malankov (Sam “Not Willem Dafoe” Spruell). And if you can’t figure out what’s really going on within the first 15-minutes, you need to watch  more movies.

The biggest problem with Taken 3 is that there’s not one scene that comes across as either believable — even with the necessary suspension of disbelief — or fun. Everyone is going through the motions, with Neeson in particular looking completely bored in this outing. Returning director Olivier Megaton may have the best name to direct this kind of film, but his films are continually getting worse. Not sure what it says about a director when his best film is Transporter 3; Taken 3 is full of shaky-cam/quick-cut editing and you never have a clue as to what’s happening. The best example is during a freeway chase where Megaton can’t even properly set up which vehicle Mills is sitting in and then screenwriters Besson, and his usual partner-in-crime Robert Mark Kamen, proceed to write action sequences as if we’re still in the ’90s. Over-the-top is the name of the game, which only helps ease things a tiny bit with hilariously bad making up most of the runtime.

Thankfully this is the final chapter in the lives of the Mills family as even the film’s tagline reads: “It ends here.” And thank the film gods for that, because the saddest thing about Taken 3, is that the only thing actually taken is your 109 minutes.

Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox

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