TAKEN 3 (2014)
GENRE: Action, Thriller
DIRECTOR: Olivier Megaton
WRITER: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen
STARS: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace
PLOT: Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he neither committed nor witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the killer and clear his name.
The original taken film is almost universally held in high regard. A well thought out action film that takes an unassuming character and gives him a particular set of skills that enable him to save his daughter from an Albanian mob ring in Paris. Directed by Pierre Morel and written by Luc Besson (with Robert Mark Kamen) it was clever and understated, relying on it’s story, performances and set pieces, rather than over the top effects and gimmicks. Unfortunately the long overdue sequel was handed over to the wonderfully named Olivier Megaton, who also directed the equally disappointing Transporter 3. Megaton produced a ridiculous farce that showed Neeson’s age and sullied the name of it’s predecessor. So I was hardly over the moon to hear of a third and final chapter in the Bryan Mills trilogy (doesn’t have the same ring as Jason Bourne does it?).
Taken 3 (It Ends Here) is once again directed by monsieur Megaton and starts with a completely ill-fitting soundtrack and glitzy shots of California that evoke Miami Vice (yes I know Miami isn’t in California) or Swordfish. It soon settles into the familiar territory of an ex special forces operative desperate to make up for not being around to see his daughter grow up and making a pigs ear of it. It doesn’t take long for things to go typically awry and Bryan finds himself on the run for a murder he didn’t commit, with a particularly dogged cop on his tail.
The cop is played well by Forest Whittaker and it is refreshing to see a character who does not waste time following through with operations that he is only too aware are pointless against an adversary such as Mills. Cue the standard cat and mouse chase, Bourne like action scenes (using fairly obvious body doubles) and roll credits. Nothing amazing happens, virtually every scene you can predict almost immediately (in fact, I called the whole plot line about 10 minutes into the film), but I still enjoyed it.
Olivier Megaton is a bad director, Neeson is too old for this kind of lark (the scenes where he runs and not his double are excruciating as you long for someone to get him some warm milk and an ice pack) and the script (much as Taken 2 was) is way below what Luc Besson is capable of. But I still enjoyed it and there were only two moments where I had to exclaim “I’m not having that!”, one was the car in the lift-shaft scene and the other the sheer stupidity of one of the groups of cops out to take him down. It is hard to recommend the film, but if you have seen the first two then Taken 3 will at least restore some faith in the franchise. It is less than half the original film, but more than double the sequel.
Liam Neeson has fast become the poster child of the ‘geri-action’ genre as he attempts to match his age with kills in each new film. In Taken 3 he redeems the series and brings it satisfactorily to a close and can now return to his sheltered housing bungalow and meals on wheels. Far from a classic, but also not a disaster.