Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.
After the turgid outing of Taken 2, we are treated to more of the same from the head smashing, gun shooting, seemingly indestructible Liam Neeson in this creatively titled, ‘Taken 3’. I have no problem with the Taken franchise. I look back on the first outing with fond memories, as I lost count how many times he messed up someones face with a multitude of different objects. The second one, where his daughter who can’t run in Taken 1 or drive properly in Taken 2, suddenly develops the ability to run and drive amazingly well, on the wrong side of the road, with a manual (stick-shift) car, and assist Neeson in trying to retrieve his wife, who was, you guessed it… Taken. It was tolerable, but turgid nonetheless.
I was pleasantly surprised then, when I learned that Taken 3 would not have the same extensive Turkish family, and that someone wouldn’t be kidnapped and that it was the final one in the trilogy. I was also happy to see that Forest Whitaker was to star as Neeson’s antagonist, in a role I hoped would be similar to Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh in The Shield against Vic Mackay. While all of the above came true, and I was pleasantly surprised, what ruined the entire film for me was the editing and cinematography.
Never have I felt more disorientated and more sick then watching Taken 3. Legitimate motion sickness with a headache was all I got from this film. Olivier Megaton should not be able to direct again. In the first chase sequence, I sat there watching as Neeson leaped over fence after fence, shooting his way to safety. What I also sat and watched was over 80 hard cuts of footage. Every half a second, it cut to another camera angle. Combine that with the handheld cameras to give a sense of the chase, you didn’t know whether Neeson was even in the frame let alone still running about like a mad man.
Set aside the chase sequences, and you are still left with an awful looking film. Big, swooping shots from the sky panning quickly inside buildings then back out again, to only come back and end up in another chase sequence with a billion hard cuts. This ‘technique’ or lack of, has probably occurred in other films I have seen – perhaps even in the first Taken, but none have been as apparent as this one. It makes it borderline unwatchable.
What is somewhat redeeming is that it lived up to expectation, low ones at that but I knew what I was getting in for. Whitaker was OK as the meticulous detective, Neeson was as grumbly, fighty and angry as usual, his daughter was an idiot and the storyline was as ridiculous as it ever is. It’s more or less the same, just slightly varied from it’s tried and tested formula of ‘taking’ someone, and it’s not a bad thing if you like these films.
A 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a little harsh, but they aren’t far off the mark. It was lazy, tedious and uninspired. Yet, if they made a Taken 4, I would still watch it.