A sort-of great action movie spun out into two monumentally awful sequels - Bryan Mills's third outing is his most disappointing and poorly made one yet.
The one-time serious, Oscar-nominated thespian Liam Neeson rekindled his sloping career by blasting onto screens as the newest gun-toting badass back in 2008, with surprise Euro-trash hit Taken. A critically-panned but universally-loved genre-flick through and through, Neeson’s first foray into the realms of brainless action was an unexpected treat, but it shouldn’t be have been made a franchise. Alas, money equals fame and so here we are, two sequels and three countries later and that sudden Neeson-charm? All but gone.
Taken 3 (or Tak3n if for some reason, like the film’s marketing team, you have a phobia of vowels) finds ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) finally back stateside, enjoying his retirement the only way he knows how – by buying relentless amounts of bagels. But swiftly following a few distressed messages from his former wife (Famke Janssen), things take a dark turn and Mills soon finds himself once again on the run, this time a fugitive in his own country. Teaming up with his ex-agency buddies, Mills spends 109 mind-numbingly stupid minutes desperately seeking the truth whilst, of course, attempting to protect his daughter (Maggie Grace) at all costs.
Following Olivier Megaton’s visual butchery of the franchise’s second film, it’s a really rather unpleasant surprise to see the director return, especially since the last putting hasn’t improved at all. Once again, Megaton treats his audience to something that’s not so much a film but more a radial blur. Everything that makes Taken even remotely entertaining is literally removed here: every car chase, gun battle and fist-fight shredded into unintelligible flashes by excessive and frankly dim-witted editing. Even scenes of family drama are chopped to pieces; sequences of everyday movements such as opening doors and making coffee being sliced into multiple split-second shots for seemingly no reason at all. The result is something that feels more like an elongated Family Guy joke than an actual blockbuster movie; Megaton’s incompetence behind the camera is honestly baffling.
In fact, for the first time in the franchise’s history (all seven years of it), even the stars are beginning to become sucked into the black-hole of awfulness that is Megaton’s filmography. Neeson’s endless charm and ‘cool-guy’ sophistication is for once totally lost over a script so dire, it frequently borders on self-parody. Gone are the knowing quips and witty retorts, replaced with nothing but cold, hard exposition enforcing entire scenes where characters sit and recite the film’s plot back to each other, as if even they can’t keep up with the constant and painfully senseless twists.
From a loveable father-figure to a water-boarding maniac, Taken 3 sees one of Hollywood’s most-loved action heroes descend from the trashy realms of the low-budget thriller, into a farcical shadow of his once partially-great self. There are almost not enough words in the entire English language to describe how terribly made Taken 3 quite is, and precisely none at all that could work to praise it.
Taken 3 (2015), directed by Olivier Megaton, is released in UK cinemas by 20th Century Fox, Certificate 12A.