Movie Review – Taken 3 (2015)

Director: Oliver Megaton

Stars: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Dougray Scott, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Sam Spruell

Life is pretty normal for Bryan Mills (Neeson) nowadays. He keeps in touch with Kim (Grace) and has an amicable relationship with Lenore (Janssen). However, Lenore and her husband Stuart (Scott) are having relationship problems, and when she comes to Bryan with her problems she admits that she still has feelings for him. The next time she comes to his apartment, however, he finds her murdered, and the cops quickly come in after an anonymous tip. Hunted by the police, Bryan has to try and find his wife’s killer before anyone else can get hurt.

At the beginning there is a piece of dialogue where Bryan talks to Kim about his efforts to not be as predictable. I’m presuming that this is a meta-reference to the film itself and to its credit there are a few twists that might take some people by surprise. The plot is independent from the first two films, and I found it to be quite strong. The mystery surrounding Lenore’s death is interesting…if you lose yourself in the film and don’t spend time thinking through the suspects and the motives, because then the solution would be obvious. But the film does a decent enough job of distracting from this with fast, intense action scenes.

The highlights are when Mills is on the run, to see him try and outwit the cops. He has help from his friends, the ones who appeared in the previous films, and I liked how they had a bigger role this time around. Whitaker plays the guy in charge of the hunt, but his role is pretty empty and I think it’s only the fact that Whitaker is a great actor that he manages to keep his parts of the film interesting. In lieu of any actual character development for him he has a couple of quirks, one being that he holds a chess piece (how original) and the other is that he snaps an elastic band around his hand. But the police are basically there to add tension to the story.

So the action is distracting but it’s also at points indecipherable. The camera is close and shaking, and I can’t remember if it was the same style with the other two films but with this one I had a really hard time keeping track of what was going on. At one point there is a car chase and I honestly gave up trying to keep track of everything. When a crate barreled across the screen I threw up my hands because I had no idea where it came from. The climax is suitably cathartic though, and overall the film had a feeling of a classic action film. I could easily imagine this being made in the 80s with Schwarzenegger or Stallone in the lead role, I just wish the action had been clearer.

As for the other aspects, well, the family storyline is dreadful and clichéd. For the short time she appears Janssen and Neeson share no chemistry, and their scene together feels awkward, forced, and contains stilted dialogue. There were a couple of good moments with Kim throughout the film but the last scene in particular just felt odd. It’s hard to explain but there was something off about them, and it didn’t feel like their relationship had changed much throughout the film.

All in all Taken 3 is a middling film. I think if you enjoyed the other films in the series you’ll like this one, especially because it doesn’t seem like a rehash of the other too. If the action hadn’t been so incomprehensible at times I would be giving this a higher recommendation as it does harken back to the 80s films I love so much. As it is, it’s enjoyable in parts but it’s not something I would be rushing out to see.

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