The charm of the first Taken was to see dramatic actor Liam Neeson, better known for complex roles like Kinsey and Schindler’s List, to star in an action-packed B-movie. It was rough-dumb fun and was clearly set up to only be a cult movie. Much to everyone’s surprise, this was not only a major success, but also spawned a Taken franchise and has turned Liam Neeson into an international action star. Now we have the latest in the Taken franchise, aptly and lazily named Taken 3 (or stylised Tak3n).
Lenore (Famke Janssen) is having marital issues with Stuart (Dougray Scott), and so wishes to console with her ex-husband Bryan (Liam Neeson) who is currently enjoying a post-Taken 2 lifestyle. When Bryan returns to his apartment he finds the dead body of Lenore and now has to prove his innocence. Detective Dotzler (Forest Whittaker) is aware of Bryan’s highly trained skills and must do everything to find him.
The first two Taken films had “kidnapping” as the main narrative trajectory but here there is none of that. It’s Bryan running around trying to remain one step ahead of the cops to prove his innocence. The revelation of Lenore’s killer is highly contrived and will leave audiences either scratching their heads or laughing at its ridiculousness.
If one were to overlook these plot elements they may have issues watching the film at all for the fast-editing technique that Western action-films are currently obsessed with is cranked up to indecipherable flashing. One would suspect this is used to cover up Liam Neeson’s less-than-nimble physique, the plot-holes in Bryan’s super-spy escapades, and, most notably, to help reduce the rating to a 12A certificate. The violence in this severely lacks the creative bloodshed the first one offered.
Whittaker’s detective role has zero character but does his best by having him play with a rubber band throughout the investigation. It does not detract from the films lack of character development but conversely over emphasises this, for this action offers no greater insight into this character.
Taken 3 is a hollow cash-grab on a franchise spawned from a surprise hit and a global in-joke. It has none of the charm from the first one or the kidnapping motif from the first two. Its headache-inducing editing and contrived plot will make this a chore to anyone watching it.
Taken 3 is released nationwide wide on 8th January 2015.
Watch the trailer for Taken 3 here: