If you read my review of Taken 2 you’ll know that I was not a big fan of the direction the series was heading. Where the first film was a tense and brutal action thriller the second was the exact opposite. It was silly, goofy and really, really dumb. After that film’s release star Liam Neeson stated that he would not appear in a Taken 3. I guess he was offered one hell of a paycheck because he’s back in the role that reinvigorated his career… and I’m pretty sure he regrets making that bank deposit.
Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is enjoying his long overdue retirement from black ops work, but when he is framed for the murder of his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) he is forced to go on the run to find the real killer.
Saying that this flick is boring is a massive understatement. Even though I didn’t like the second film at least there was usually something mildly exciting going on at any given time. Not here. Not only is this film overly long (it’s just under 2 hours), but there is absolutely nothing going on during its runtime. Once the inciting incident occurs the film plods along at a snail’s pace as Mills attempts to keep creeping on his daughter at college instead of dealing with the pickle he’s in. When he finally gets around to focusing on who killed his ex the big reveal is super predictable due to the cliché of casting a recognizable face in a (supposedly) nothing part. There’s none of the suspense, none of the thrills and none of what made Mills so effing rad in the original film on display. It’s a waste.
This time Neeson looks as if he’s on autopilot. He doesn’t seem nearly as committed to the role as he was in the past giving further proof that he never really wanted to participate in this abomination in the first place. Maggie Grace does nothing but cry and pout, Dougray Scott channels his inner douchebag and Sam Spruell goes into Ricardo Montalban territory with how much scenery he chews as the secondary villain. Surprisingly Famke Janssen gives a fairly decent performance for someone with relatively zero screentime. She was probably just happy to be written out of the series at this point. The best performance comes from Forest Whitaker as Dotzler, the cop on the hunt for Mills. He doesn’t go overboard, keeps his character reserved and is basically the only saving grace in the cast.
I still don’t know how director Olivier Megaton keeps getting work. Each of the film’s he’s helmed I couldn’t stand (Colombiana, Taken 2, Transporter 3) and he’s usually all about style and zero substance. However, with Taken 3 he doesn’t even take his typical route. There’s zero style and zero substance across the board. He can’t even get Neeson to look like he gives two shits about the fact that his on-screen ex-wife was killed in his own bed. The few action scenes sprinkled throughout the film are lame and unexciting, the drama is tedious and there is nothing that I can say stuck out as creative or even fun.
While I am thankful that franchise writers Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional) and Robert Mark Kamen didn’t make the plot about someone being kidnapped yet again, they too seem to have lost interest in these stories. Sure having Lenore killed in the first 15 minutes is shocking. I really liked her character in the first film so seeing her taken out the way she was was a gasper. It’s just too bad that once it happens the writers can’t seem to find anywhere to take the story. It meanders for what seems like an eternity and is filled with needless padding (all the college scenes involving Mills trying to see his daughter) just so the film wouldn’t clock in at under 70 minutes. I think it’s time that Besson and Kamen finally put these characters to bed and move on to other projects. Maybe Besson can finally get off his ass and make that sequel to The Fifth Element he’s been teasing fans with for nearly 20 years.
It’s plainly obvious that I feel Taken 3 is the worst film in the series. There is not a drop of entertainment value left to be squeezed from this franchise. It’s creatively bankrupt from the start and tested my patience on multiple occasions as leaving the theater to take a piss felt like a much needed intermission. This franchise is officially dead to me. Let’s hope it stays that way.
1 out of 5