The only thing ‘taken’ in this flaccid threequel is diabolical liberties with the audience’s patience and intelligence.
When ex-CIA operative Brian Mills is framed for the murder of his ex-wife, he sets off to find out who really killed her, evading the LAPD and Russian mobsters as he closes in on the culprit.
Where the first film was a brilliant, lean revenge thriller and its sequel was a moderately entertaining retread of the same shtick, this third instalment jettisons the franchise’s unique selling point in favour of staging a generic action movie in and around Los Angeles.
Neeson seems bored by the whole thing, mumbling his way through the dreary and repetitive script, dispensing rote beatings to a conveyor belt of identikit thugs who lack sufficient personality to even be NPCs in the background of a Rockstar game. The identity of the villain is ludicrously obvious from the moment the film starts and Forest Whitaker’s tedious portrayal of the tough, no-nonsense police detective leading the manhunt for Mills could have been assembled from deleted scenes from his turn playing pretty much the same character in “The Last Stand”.
The most offensive thing of all, though, after all the workmanlike, unremarkable action scenes obfuscated by the intentionally disorienting camerawork and choppy editing that are the stock in trade of director and Luc Besson protégé Olivier Mégaton and the repetitive captured, escapes, captured, escapes shenanigans is that the bad guy’s plot literally couldn’t have succeeded if Mills had simply cooperated with the Police. Refreshingly, there’s no corrupt cop/ inside man so the available evidence would have quickly exonerated him. Even then, the movie doubles down on its dumbness when, after all the mayhem, Whitaker’s Police Detective simply lets him go, on the basis that he didn’t murder his wife (a fact he’d apparently suspected all along). There’s no mention of any charges being brought regarding swathe of destruction and trail of dead bodies littering Los Angeles or the dozens of Police officers he assaulted and/ or severely injured along the way. The particular set of skills of the people involved in this film did not, apparently, include coherent scriptwriting.
The original “Taken” was a clever, gritty euro thriller. “Taken 3” is a profoundly stupid, shitty straight to DVD action flick with delusions of grandeur thanks to the pick-up-the-pay check performances of Neeson, Whitaker and Dougray Scott.