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?
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.
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.