Taken 3 Review
Taken 3 Promo Poster
Taken 3 - The Breakdown
Taken 3 once again sees Liam Neeson reprise the role of Bryan Mills, a special operative who 'gets things done', living a happy comfortable life. His relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is as good as it ever was to the point that he isn't constantly checking up on her or her boyfriend. His relationship with Lenore (Famke Janssen) is going from strength to strength compounded with the fact she is still having severe marital issues with her current husband. Life is good.
Building up the perception of normality for the first 30 minutes or so settles us back into the characters we've enjoyed watching from the previous two films and for a brief moment, you wonder if this has become a drama, rather than an action film. Liam Neeson isn't quite the spring chicken but I'm not sure he's quite ready to guest star on Downton Abbey just yet. Soon though, the film springs into well trodden territory. Through a series of events, Liam Neeson is found holding a murder weapon, standing over his (now dead) ex-wife's body surrounded by police. Luckily, he still has a particular set of skills...
More than echoing 'The Fugitive', we now see Bryan Mills on the run from the police for a murder he didn't commit, trying to prove his innocence. It's a well used, but solid set up for the action that follows as the audience tries to work out what has happened.
To change things up from the previous two films, Taken 3 is set in the USA. We're on Bryan Mills' home turf for the (hopefully) final film. No more translators in Paris and no more dusty markets - the man who has served his country for so many years, is now a criminal in their eyes, hunted in his own back yard. On his case throughout the film are some rather skilled policeman headed up by Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) which is a nice change of pace from bungling American cops which often get perpetuated in films like this.
Bryan Mills has more tricks up his sleeve this time though because he's on familiar territory. He knows the area, the hideout spots and has his always willing friends to aid him when he's in a jam, all to prove his innocence and find out who murdered his ex-wife, but also why.
The shadowy villain of the piece is seen early on and is very charismatically played, yet severely underused in what can only be described as a Russian Bryan Mills. It keeps the intrigue level up definitely, but for a villain with a solid backstory, the director could have made more of him I feel.
Too Fast, Too Furious
Once the film gets going, it really fires on all cylinders. You're on the edge of your seat pretty much throughout the film. The action itself is well done with one particular standout scene for me taking place in a grocery store and the final stunt in the film is both fresh and satisfying.
However, what does impact the film and unfortunately marred Taken 2 as well, is the director's (Olivier Megaton) ADHD style camera work. Now, I'm sure some of this has to do with the 12a (PG13) rating (which I understand commercially, but denounce artistically) as some parts would be seen as too violent so are glossed over quickly making the audience think there is a missing link. The problem this creates is that some scenes in the film, specifically every car chase, are very hard to follow. The stunts themselves are the best in the series with cars careering in the air, well timed crashes and satisfying explosions, but it all gets a bit too much to follow because of the quick editing so you lose the continuity. At one point in the film you could have replaced Liam Neeson with Jason Statham and just called it 'Crank 3'. Needless to say, his no claims bonus... is about to be taken.
That being said, the hand-to-hand combat parts which Liam Neeson himself loves doing and has personally done martial arts in the past, are well constructed but again suffer a little from the hyper camerawork. As a martial arts fan myself, these are the bits I looked forward to most and whilst it would be unfair of me to compare to many other films that do this part better, it's just shy of the slightly better combat in The Bourne Ultimatum as a guide.
All in all, you still wouldn't want to mess Bryan Mills, even on a bad day.
I Will Look For You, I Will Find You
It's certainly a lot more serious in tone in some parts than Taken 2 but because of the fictional relationships we've built up with these characters over the previous two films, their safety means more to us because we know what they've been through. Questions are however answered and a fourth one would be a mistake in my view.
Liam Neeson has done another admirable in portraying the skilled Bryan Mills and even though he looks a little jaded in some parts, there's no question he fits the bill nicely as a slightly tired, but capable action hero. Maggie Grace is much more sympathetic, less annoying and notably more mature and is world's apart from the whiny, teenage girl needing to be rescued from the original Taken. Also, the addition of Forest Whitaker does give the film a little more clout and he serves as a calm, calculated and methodical character compared to the frantic, passionate guile of Neeson. One last point is that the original musical score was not only memorable but fitting for the third and final film.
When the credits close on Taken 3, I have to say I was left satisfied. Not only did the film surprise me with a few twists and turns, but having gone in with a little dread, I was happy that the film was above my estimations. A few scenes are rather unbelievable if not almost ridiculous but if you suspend belief it won't matter much so just enjoy the ride.