Movie Review: Taken 3
Part of the thrill of Taken, for me, was that Liam Neeson showed so many interesting and unique abilities that I wouldn’t think of and didn’t know existed. Taken 3 is so far from the original Taken, though, that it’s barely connected. The franchise started going downhill with Taken 2, but it still revolved around people who were “taken,” so that whole thrill of will-he-find-them (although, duh), existed in both movies. Taken 3, though, is just about solving a mystery of who killed Lenore, Bryan’s ex-wife. It’s not so much about Bryan or his ability to navigate a foreign country and illustrate his CIA-esque breeding, but rather, it’s about tracking down clues and escaping the police. It’s not as clever as the first movie and the stakes aren’t as high, no matter how much the movie tries to make you believe they are.
That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable to watch—for an action movie, it’s interesting, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s still smart and the plot still twists and turns. It’s just not as smart as what made Taken so good it spawned two additional movies.
Two things about Taken 3 particularly irked me: one, that all the promotional material screams “IT ALL ENDS HERE,” but the movie clearly sets itself up for a fourth (and fifth and sixth) film. Two, the ending and the consequences for Bryan, which I can’t discuss here so as not to spoil the movie, but just know that it requires a suspension of disbelief.
Stars: 3 out of 5
Why Liam Neeson isn’t believable that he’s so distraught about his ex-wife dying: He’s in love with Claudia Schiffer
Why Liam Neeson isn’t believable as an American: His accent is not completely erased…
One of the qualities I appreciate in Taken 3 (and the original Taken) is that there are some strange stylistic decisions that make it slightly less generic than its action brethren. Luc Besson is the preeminent weirdo of pulp entertainment, and although he only has writing and not directing credits, the extra touches still shine through. Some examples (light spoilers): Forest Whitaker plays a cop who both constantly plays with rubber bands and also carries a chess knight piece for no real reason. We’re told early on that a character is pregnant, and then the film seems to completely forget this, because a bunch of baby-unfriendly things happen to her while she does action-movie stuff and no one seems to notice. She is literally poisoned by Liam Neeson to induce vomiting and neither of them ever acknowledges that maybe none of this has been good for a future mother. Finally, hot bagels are featured very extensively in a payoff part that is simultaneously obvious, implausible, and entirely inconsequential. Some may say these are examples of why the film is terrible (it is getting slaughtered on Rotten Tomatoes, currently standing at 11%) but I think these touches are what gives the film its enjoyable flavor. A lot of other action films have implausible nine-on-one fight scenes and predictable "surprise" twists but only Taken 3 has Forest Whitaker sensually tasting a bagel for clues.
Stars: 3/ 5
How does it compare to the other Taken films?
Worse than: Taken
Better than: Taken 2