Taken was wildly successful, bringing in over $226 million on a budget of just $25 million and helping establish Liam Neeson as a bonafide action star, but it ultimately wasn’t all that great. After the uninspired sequel brought in over $376 million worldwide, the depressing fact we may get a third film soon became a reality.
So, here we are, and surprise, surprise, we’ve got ourselves a threequel that isn’t very good…at all.
While neither previous film in the franchise impressed in terms of plot or action, Taken 3 takes the series to a new level of filmmaking laziness. What is essentially a chase film, with Liam Neeson’s ex-government operative Bryan Mills on the run after his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is killed, Taken 3 manages to deliver an action-thriller that fails with almost every basic element of the genre.
Eye-rolling tropes abound in this by-the-numbers flick, with Russian baddies drinking vodka, useless cops eating donuts, and everyone except for our hero unable to aim a weapon. The inclusion of clichés don’t bring about disaster to every film that incorporates them, but they certainly don’t do any favours for a film so determined to take well-trodden steps.
Director Olivier Megaton, who directed Taken 2, Transporter 3, and Colombiana, ensures that every scene is more flatly directed than the one that preceded it. “Shaky-cam” can enhance energetic sequences, but only when it’s done right. With visuals so jittery and an editing style so relentlessly choppy, you’ll be struggling to make sense of what’s happening to who throughout most of the barely-thought-through action sequences. You’ll simply be waiting for a quick angle showing who it is that didn’t make it out of that fight. Laughably, Megaton ensures that this exhausting format is used on even the calmest of scenes, pummelling any possibility of an emotional response.
As our lead, Neeson is in danger of outstaying his welcome as an action star. Sure, he has that awesome voice and he is generally magnetic enough to have us willing to forgive a film’s shortcomings, but this easy paycheque sees him put in a tired, often dull performance. He barely cares, and it shows. Meanwhile, Forest Whitaker seems to be having some mild fun in a role we’ve seen him play countless times by now.
Fans of action and violence can look elsewhere; you won’t get much of either here. Not to say that nothing happens, it’s just that what does happen is barely of interest and almost always poorly handled. Action sequences have been so obviously edited down for a PG-13 (U.S.) rating that every punchline of brutality is deprived of impact.
Overall, Taken 3 lacks enough clarity in its direction, grittiness in its violence, and originality in its screenplay to make it anything more than a forgettable and frustrating exercise in banality.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10