Taken 3 – Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Leland Orser
In cinemas January 9th
Also, known as Tak3n this sees Liam Neeson enjoy his third outing as former CIA agent Bryan Mills who seems to have the unluckiest family in the world as they are unfortunate enough to keep finding themselves the target of some nasty individuals meaning he has to use his special set of skills to save the day.
Surprisingly this time round no one actually gets Taken making the title somewhat redundant. Rather Mills ex-wife Lenore (Janssen) is murdered and he is framed for the crime. Forced to go on the run he promises their daughter Kim (Grace) that he will prove his innocence. As he goes underground in order to try to prove his innocence it looks like he may well have met his match in Inspector Dotzler (Whitaker) who manages to see through many of his diversions making it difficult for him to remain undetected. Trying to stay one step ahead of the police his investigation points him in the direction of a Russian gangster called Malankov (Spruell) who is owed money by Lenore’s widow Stuart (Scott). Concerned that Malanov will target Kim he works with Stuart to confront him but as he closes in on the heavily tattooed villain it looks as if he may have been manipulated into pointing the finger for Lenore’s murder in the wrong direction.
Even Neeson was shocked by the success of the first Taken movie so the fact that it has spawned two sequels is definitely an achievement. Like all movies of this kind it doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. It is a revenge/action movie and proud of it and as such it employs numerous clichés of the genre. Neeson is more than comfortable in the role of Mills at this stage and could probably play him in his sleep. There’s also something wonderful about the fact that he has become a huge action hero in his pensionable years when most actors his age are playing father/ grandfather roles. While Neeson is a fine actor at this stage he can pretty much dial in the role which is a shame as he has a fantastic foil in the form of Whitaker who seems incapable of giving a bad performance no matter how thin the material. Unfortunately there are many wasted opportunities where the two could have played off each other to great effect. As regards the rest of the cast Grace is simply window dressing as Bryan and Lenore’s daughter Kim. She looks pretty but fails to draw you in on any sort of emotional level and struggles with the core dramatic scenes. Meanwhile Scott, who has proven to be a fine actor in the past, smirks and gurns his way through this and you can tell from the off where his character is going. And Spreull plays Russian gangster by numbers (although in fairness he had a difficult job as the Russian gangster concept is somewhat old at this stage).
The story is pretty basic. Little or no time is spent on character development and the focus is very much on the action. To that end there are plenty of chase scenes and fight scenes to keep fans happy and a closing scene that probably ate up most of the effects and stunt budget. As with the previous offerings these are stylised and entertaining but there is nothing new in them.
If you’ve seen or know of the previous two movies then you pretty much know what to expect here. It is more of the same and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. Don’t go in expecting high drama. This is a romp and wears its credentials proudly. It is supposed to be a bit of fun and escapism and on the whole it succeeds. While it is stilted and wooden in between the action sequences at times this is what we expect from these films and if you head into this looking for anything else you will be disappointed.
Is this a great movie? No. Is it a bit of fun? Yes. And at least it is honest about what it is. There are far worse ways to kill a couple of hours and Neeson and Whitaker ensure that it’s watchable and engaging enough to justify the cinema entrance fee. The poster for this is emblazoned with “It Ends Here” but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Mills and his special skills get a fourth outing in the foreseeable future.
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Liam Neeson can bring undeserved credibility to most roles just by playing them.