REVIEW: “Taken 3”

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It’s the start of the 2015 movie season so you know what that means. It’s time for a Liam Neeson action flick. For several years we have gotten a Neeson action movie early in the year, mostly February. While they are usually forgotten by the end of the year, they do provide some decent escapist fun. Well, except for “Taken 2” which was an awful film, but it was also released in September. Now we get “Taken 3” and we get it in January. Will that early-year Neeson ‘magic’ give us yet another entertaining but forgettable thriller or does this film belong in the same crap bowl as “Taken 2”?

I can’t say I’ve been optimistic about “Taken 3”. Luc Beeson returns as co-writer and producer. Olivier Megaton returns to direct. In “Taken 2” these guys captured none of the first film’s edgy, butt-kicking entertainment. Instead they gave us a dopey and preposterous sequel filled with sloppy and undecipherable action scenes. With them back on board how could I expect anything different?

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The story follows the same basic blueprint as the other two movies. We spend the first 20 minutes or so getting reacquainted with these characters. Bryan Mills (Neeson) is still a fun loving father who loves a good bagel and owns a ‘particular set of skills’. He still has a close relationship with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). Lenore has been having marital problems with her husband Stuart (Dougray Scott) which has rekindled her affections for Bryan.

One day Lenore texts Brian and asks him to meet her at his apartment. When he arrives he finds her dead in his bed. The police immediately bust in and Bryan becomes the chief suspect. Thanks to a series of head-scratching decisions and amazing conveniences Bryan sets out to find who is responsible for his wife’s murder. Hot on his heels is LAPD Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) who wants to take him in. Clues, close calls, car chases, and fistfights follow as Bryan tries to get to the killer before the police get to him.

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The good news is “Taken 3” is better than the last film but not by a wide margin. There are just some things you have to expect. Beeson is going to give you some excruciating lines and some laughably bad plot contrivances. I swear, the guy writes some of the most simplistic and obvious dialogue. You can also expect Megaton to hack his action scenes to pieces and then paste them together in a headache-inducing collage of fast-paced images. His ridiculous quick cuts make following the action an impossible chore. He does slow it down a tad in the second half and that helps things a little.

I always enjoy Liam Neeson but for the first time he actually looks his age. Maybe it was how the fight scenes were shot. Maybe he was tired or uninterested. Whatever it is Neeson looked slow and limited. On the other hand he has that gravelly-voiced charisma and he can often make the most absurd scenes entertaining. He is asked to do a lot of that in “Taken 3” and in the end he makes it a lot more watchable than the last film. But as long as Beeson and Megaton are attached, it will be a silly and shallow series that even Neeson himself can’t fully save.

VERDICT – 2.5 STARS

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26 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Taken 3”

  1. Agreed. Better than the second, but not close to the original. Plus, the film’s flash-cut editing style and shaky-cam gave me a couple of moments of nausea. No fun. Still, enjoyed Neeson’s and Whitaker’s work, but glad they’ll let this series close out.

  2. Like the second film, I’m going to wait until this one hits home video. The first movie was awesome, but the second one left a lot to be desired. I think Megaton went to the Michael bay School of Editing, which means super-hyper-kinetic editing in which you have no idea what the hell’s going on. I honestly don’t know why some of these directors think that’s such a good idea in what is supposed to be a straight-up action flick.

    • I agree 100%. Megaton absolutely kills the action scenes with his out-of-control rapid cuts. It drives me insane.

      And waiting for home video is a good idea. There’s nothing here worth seeing on the big screen. It’s a shame that these last two movies couldn’t even come close to the first film.

      • I think the only movie that Megaton managed to not butcher was Colombiana. I think that was his best effort.

  3. As long as Liam is killing someone who deserves it, I can go along. This movie is shot and edited in a style that makes me long for slow motion and wide establishing master shots. People, buy a tripod and use it!

    • Yes give it a watch. Definitely not one you need to rush out and see. It still has several of the problems from Taken 2 but thankfully it isn’t as terrible.

  4. I will probably catch this at home eventually, but Taken really didn’t need to become a trilogy. The first was good and could have stayed like that. Great work Keith!

  5. Dear God, the editing on this film was horrendous. I don’t think I’ve had a worse time watching an action sequence. That car chase with the container semi and the cop cars was atrocious.

    I enjoyed the film for its stupidity, but it’s a wholly unremarkable piece of crap.

    • I swear they don’t know how to film and edit an action sequence. It was like that in the second movie, chopped to extremes and a headache-inducing mess. You are exactly right, the kill the chase scene with their “technique”. Uggghhh!!!

  6. It’s incredible that they keep making these. Yet, I’ve found something to enjoy in both the first two films. I’m sure this will deliver the same sorts of thrills.

    • I really didn’t like the second movie but this one is better than it. So if you had some fun with Taken 2 I can assure you you’ll find some fun here as well.

  7. Pingback: » Movie Review – Tak3n Fernby Films

  8. Well, just watched Taken 3. Not really a bad film, but the editing is out of control. That first action sequence with Neeson being chased by cops? Head-ache inducing. I hate that. The editing smooths out over the course of the movie. But Megaton does the same thing in the previous film, Colombiana and Transporter 3. Where’s my aspirin?

    • Taken 2 was even worse. I remember leaving the theater thinking my head was about to explode. You literally couldn’t decipher some of the things going on in the action sequences.

      • I can understand that, definitely. But have you noticed that in each of Megaton’s movies, the editing actually gets smoother towards the end of the film? I’m not kidding, it starts off really rough, but when the film comes to a close, it’s a lot more tolerable. The last fight scene in Taken 2 was a lot easier to follow than a lot of the others.

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