Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) just cannot live a quiet life, no matter how hard he tries. This time out, the family are settling down again after the shenanigans of Istanbul; Kim (Maggie Grace) has just discovered she’s pregnant, and Lenore (Famke Janssen) is still having troubles in her marriage to Stuart (Dougray Scott). Although no-one is ‘taken’, as such, Mills finds himself framed for a murder he didn’t commit, and sets out to clear his name.
Taken 2 was pretty much panned by critics around the world, and rightly so, but it did well at the box office so – despite Liam Neeson’s initial protestations that there would not be a third film in the Taken franchise – here we are.
Neeson resumes his role as Bryan Mills and, although he has the growly threatening thing going on as usual, it is obvious that the actor is finding the action sequences a lot more challenging than he used to, as is evidenced by the way his running scenes are shot. That said, Neeson still delivers the scary Dad goods, and that’s what these films are all about.
Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace reprise their roles from the franchise with varying degrees of prominence and success. There is really nothing new to their performances, so lets not dwell. Dougray Scott takes over the role of Lenore’s husband Stuart, and doesn’t really err on the side of subtle with his performance, which matches the rest of the film. Forest Whittaker also joins the cast as cop Franck Dotzler, and obviously enjoys the ticks and idiosyncrasies that the character is given, but also feels like a parody of himself in some ways.
The story, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen had the caveat from Neeson that no-one was to be taken this time – really!? Isn’t that the point!? – so it just turns into a standard Whodunnit. The dialogue is cringey at times, the action sequences incredibly silly and the motivation obvious from the outset.
Director Oliver Megaton – whose name always amuses me – approaches Taken 3 with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, making the action sequences over the top and completely absurd – why on earth did that truck jack knife when no-one was near it? – in a way that the Fast and Furious boys would appreciate. The emotional scenes lack sincerity, and everything feels a little too convenient, but then, this is a Taken film, and as time has gone on, the franchise has gone from being a decent enough thriller into the land of the silly and over the top.
In all, Taken 3 is exactly what you would expect, if you have seen the previous films in the trilogy. Neeson growls nicely, leaving the rest of the cast scrambling to keep up, the dialogue is cheesy, the story ridiculous and the action absurd. Taken has lost any shine created by the first film and, like Whitaker himself, has become a parody of itself.