Taken 3 Review
I actually liked the first "Taken," and sometimes its hard to remember when this franchise was fresh and still had its dignity intact. It wasn't a revelation of the action genre, but it was fun for what it was and it turned Liam Neeson into a full-fledged action star, something I felt he had been moving towards for a couple years prior. It wasn't a movie I expected would have a sequel, but it did. Not only did "Taken 2" leave a bad taste in most people's mouths, it handcuffed Liam Neeson to a particular persona, something that I don't think he's shaken off since. Every action movie he stars in seems like he just playing a variation of Bryan Mills, the character Neeson has made famous in "Taken." "Taken" was always a ridiculous series, but the lack of effort becomes daunting after two movies and a third is just puzzling.
It's funny because "Taken 3" shouldn't really be called "Taken 3." For a grand majority of the movie, nobody is ever taken. What "Taken 3" really should have been called was "The Fugitive 2." Because in this third film, Bryan Mills is framed for the murder of his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and Mills is hot on the trail to find out who killed his wife and why. He also has to protect his daughter from whoever it was who killed his wife. Essentially, that is the plot of the movie, and after several scenes of "I didn't kill my wife!" from Neeson and several dead bodies later, Neeson defeats the killers and clears his name. Sure, there is much more to it than that, but does that really matter? This whole movie was just an excuse to get Liam Neeson back into character to make the studios behind this movie more money.
Liam Neeson is pretty much Liam Neeson in this movie. If you have seen the other "Taken" movies, and if you have seen "Unknown" or "Non-Stop" or any of the other movies Liam Neeson has been starring in the last few years, you've basically seen the output of his talent. Neeson doesn't put a lot of effort towards building a character, because he doesn't have to. I am almost 100% sure that all the dialogue Neeson speaks in this movie are from the scripts of the previous two films. I miss the characters Liam Neeson used to play, I'd much prefer the mentor Neeson to this blank action hero Neeson any day. Maggie Grace returns as Bryan Mills' daughter and the efforts this movie uses to make her a relevant, quasi-badass is just hilarious, pure and simple.
Forest Whitaker plays a Los Angeles cop trying to find Mills and bring him to justice. Once again, Forest Whitaker is an actor I like very much, but he's shamelessly useless here. He spouts the same jargon characters like this spout out in movies like this. He's the clueless cop who should be trusting that Mills is actually a good guy but doesn't for the sake of the screenplay. There is nothing new or cool about the character, it's just a blank character.
The only good thing about this movie is that Leland Orser and Jon Gries return as Mills' colleagues from the first film. Both Orser and Gries are criminally underrated in Hollywood and watching them both return to this franchise and actually have something to do was exciting. I'd perk up in my chair a bit, each time they both shambled onscreen and they brought an energy the movie drastically needed. At the end of the day though, they just can't save this movie from sucking.
The worst thing I can say about a movie is that I will most likely forget "Taken 3" by tomorrow. I barely had enough courage to write this review, because let's face it, if you are not feeling much after a movie, it obviously meant very little to you. If you already knew what I was going to write, why write anything at all. The commercials say this is all ends here, let's hope that tagline is a promise.
FINAL GRADE: D-