‘Taken 3’ Review: Look Who’s Taken Now
The latest attempt to ruin the classic 2008 thriller Taken has finally delivered the finishing blow. The spine has been yanked out of this series, and now it dangles from the fist of director Olivier Megaton, who – after this, Taken 2 and Transporter 3 – should be legally required to change his name to Spilsbury Punybomb.
That’s a cheap shot, I’ll admit it, but after being bludgeoned to death by thousands of low-rent hyper-edited images that barely linger on the screen for more than two seconds at a time, I think the filmmaker is getting off light. You can technically tell what’s going on in Taken 3, but the director’s dedication to using every single piece of coverage – pacing be damned! – leaves even the coolest of car chases feeling rote and pointless.
There is an enormous difference between competently capturing an image and telling a decent story. Taken 3 doesn’t even bother trying to cross the barrier. The film spends its first act casually catching up on the Mills family – Bryan (Liam Neeson), Lenore (Famke Janssen) and Kim (Maggie Grace) – before transitioning into its fugitive thriller storyline without any dramatic flare. Taken 3 treats the moment when our hero finds his dead ex-wife’s body with the same blasé attitude it treats our hero buying bagels… which is, believe it or not, an equally important plot point.
The trick to making a thriller is that there have to be actual thrills, something Taken 3 seems to have forgotten about. Although the idea of Bryan Mills accused of murdering his ex-wife and going on the run sounds exciting on paper, the odds are never against him. The actual killers disappear for most of the movie, pitting Neeson instead against Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), whose team is outclassed from the moment they are introduced. There’s no reason to ever suspect that they are going to catch Bryan Mills, but the movie dedicates most of its running time to their pursuit anyway. It’s like watching James Bond try to outwit Barney Fife for almost two hours: there’s no reason to linger on a sure thing for that long.
When Liam Neeson first signed on to the Taken franchise, he claims he thought it was going to go straight to video. And if the original film had been made this badly, it probably would have. Some of us were able to get through the mostly silly Taken 2 by clinging hard and fast to the residual good will left over from the first movie. But Taken 3 makes Taken 2 look like Taken. Next time, I suggest they go in a completely different direction: Taken 4: And Shove It.