Sunday, 11 January 2015

Film Review: Taken 3



Back in 2008, the original Taken was something of a revelation - set against the grimy backdrop of the Paris criminal underworld was Liam Neeson, an Oscar nominated actor best known for playing Oskar Schindler and Qui-Gon Jinn, getting his knuckles bruised in a MA15+ Eurothriller that didn't pull any punches. 

Fast forward to 2012 and the follow-up, Taken 2, failed to live up to the original by rehashing the same plot and removing blood and bone-crunching action from the equation.

Now, in 2015, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is back for a third time in Taken 3, the final instalment in unlikeliest of action franchises. This time, Bryan is framed for a crime he didn't commit and must work outside the law to protect those closest to him. So, how does this third spin of the wheel measure up? Is it as good as the first?

Put simply - yeah, nah (that's an Aussie way of saying nope). Taken 3 is rubbish, the kind of reheated, rejigged rubbish that Hollywood loves to repackage in way that screams "this time, it's different! Honest! Wait, don't go..."

Trust me, it's not different. Despite the new premise (Bryan is on home soil and trouble finds him - dun dun duunn!), Taken 3 is quite easily the messiest, ugliest and downright worst in the series.

Let's start with the characters - Neeson is on autopilot in this film, playing the same gruff father with a heart of gold he's known for since, well since the first Taken. It's a role he can (and has) played in his sleep (see: Unknown, Non-Stop). It's plain as day that this is a cash-grab for Neeson, an obvious attempt to capitalise on his autumnal action career that has made him popular with both the ladies and dads the world over.

Plus, I didn't buy the action sequences at all - it doesn't take a brainiac to see that Neeson isn't really jumping over that fence or throat-punching that goon. It's all a little implausible the kind of scrapes that Bryan Mills gets into at the ripe old age of 117.

Essentially, Taken 3 suffers from what I like to call Die Hard syndrome - Bryan has somehow inexplicably become completely invulnerable to anything the villains can throw/shoot at him. At one point he reverses a car down an elevator shaft where it is met at the bottom with a fiery explosion. Does the film explain how he survived? Nope, of course not - it cuts to the next scene where he is already striding away growling down the phone at another character. The film also pulls this trick (faking a death in a car explosion) twice. It's not just unimaginative, it's insulting to the audience.

Anyway, also returning is Famke Janssen as his wife, Lenore. Janssen doesn't get an awful lot to do in this film (much like the other two), but when she is on screen she's as wooden and bored as Neeson is.

Maggie Grace (SHANNON! IT'S SHANNON FROM LOST!) also reappears as Bryan's whiny daughter Kim. She's okay I suppose - again, she's kind of on autopilot like the rest of the cast. Although, how old is Kim supposed to be? Because Maggie Grace is old as fuck to be playing a girl just starting college.

The villains are a hodge-podge of Russian gangsters and thugs that all kind of blur into one. Could I recite any of their names or memorable lines? Nope, they're essentially all cannon fodder for Bryan to growl at and punch in the throat.

Something that I don't often pick up on is sound direction. However, with Taken 3, the sound design is so poorly put together that I was often completely drawn out of the moment to comment upon how odd and ridiculous the music was at that particular moment.

For example, one scene between Bryan and Lenore at the beginning of the film would lead us to believe that Bryan, a retired secret service agent trying to reconnect with his ex-wife, is a big fan of British indie dream pop group, The xx. I mean, whilst this isn't impossible (You never know, Bryan may be hella into the British indie dream pop scene), it was completely at odds with the tone of the scene and stuck out like a sore thumb. It led me to think, 'what's next?' - The Shins? Hot Chip? Sigur Ros? Bryan (and his iPod nano) could be one seriously hip dude!' Anyway, it's not just that one instance - multiple scenes throughout the film are supported with misplaced songs, both orchestral and licensed.

As well as being utter garbage, the narrative in Taken 3 is pretty simplistic - in fact, I often found myself 2 or 3 steps ahead of Bryan as he lumbers around trying to unearth his wife's killer. Am I being too harsh? I mean, he was born when the Ol Queen Vic was still knocking around, maybe I should cut him some slack.

It doesn't help that this thin plotting is punctuated with some of the messiest and most disorientating action I've seen this side of 2012's Alex Cross. Seriously, someone needs to shoot whoever edited together this claptrap. At times the editing and camerawork is utterly nonsensical - at one point, my partner and I couldn't decipher which car Liam Neeson was in midway through a car chase, making the entire sequence about piecing together who was where instead of, y'know, enjoying the movie.

Realising this, I soon began to actually like Taken 3 - not because it was exciting, badass or thrilling but because it was so stupid, so nonsensical and so poorly-made that the only thing you can do is laugh at it. Like, really hard.

Early contender for unintentional comedy of the year?

The Verdict: 2/10


Taken 3 is a nonsensical cash-grab that fails to excite or entertain. It's only redeeming feature is the sporadic hilarity, even if it's not exactly intentional. The only thing here that is getting taken is the audiences money.

2 comments:

  1. I can’t say this movie stinks, it just does in comparison to the original. Because seriously – how many times can someone in this guy’s life be taken???

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    Replies
    1. I know right! It's kind of insulting that this series has flourished when the premise itself is so weak. Thanks for commenting Thomas! :)

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