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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10%
Worth A Look: 10%
Average: 10%
Pretty Bad: 10%
Total Crap60%

1 review, 4 user ratings

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Taken 3
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by Jay Seaver

"You don't have to let this crap on a great original. Just ignore it."
1 stars

Luc Besson almost certainly knows more about making action/adventure films than I do - there are times when he seems to have it down to a science - but there are a couple of things I'm pretty sure of: You should try to maximize the use of Famke Janssen, rather than minimize it, and Olivier Megaton's continued employment as a director of action/adventure movies owes more to his pseudonym than any particular skill at it. If I can see this, why can't Besson? Why besmirch the name of a movie that actually exceeded expectations like this?

After a teaser in which a Russian killer by the name of Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell) fails to get money we're owed, we catch up with former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), who is buying the sort of birthday present for his college-aged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) that shows he still thinks of her as a little girl and meeting, in turn, with his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen), who is clearly still attracted to him, and her husband Stuart (Dougray Scott), who would kind of like it if Bryan backed off. Soon, Lenore is found dead in Bryan's apartment and he's being chased by the police, led by Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker).

Film-to-film continuity isn't really that important in a series like this, but wasn't Lenore done with Stuart and back together with Bryan in Taken 2? Given that Dougray Scott has no resemblance of any kind to the actor who played the character in the first movie (Xander Berkeley) - and how the character's personality seems totally different - I can't imagine I'll be the only one wondering what the deal is and why she's got a third husband. The funny thing is, if you wanted to, you could build some pretty good conflict around what it feels like to be the guy who just sort of stood by while your wife's ex murdered his way through the Paris and Istanbul underground when she or her daughter was threatened, but that angle never seems to occur to Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen.

Nobody would care about such things if the movie satisfied elsewhere, but it is one of the most terribly presented action movies in recent memory, and what's amazing is that Megaton seems to be getting worse with practice. There is not a single action sequence that he, Audrey Simonaud, and Nicolas Trembasiewicz, his enablers in the editing booth, don't cut into complete gibberish. It is quite frankly astonishing how, no matter whether there is a fistfight, shootout, or car chase going on, he and cinematographer Eric Kress manage to frame things too tightly to see what is going on, and then jump around in a way that can sometimes obscure who is chasing whom, how Mills is getting from point A to point B, whether there is space between two people, or how bad an injury might be. Every single moment that should be exciting is instead confusing, especially when compared to the quick, clear, and decisive violence Pierre Morrel orchestrated in the first film. Sometimes, Megaton doesn't even bother showing how Mills gets out of a scrape, even though watching his hyper-competence is pretty much why people go to these movies.

Arguably the biggest shame of the whole thing - aside from how killing Lenore makes this one of those miserable sequels that feels the need to throw out what the heroes accomplished in previous entries - is that it wastes something fans of the series have wanted to see for a while in having Mills's spy buddies from the previous films (played by character actors Leland Orser, Jon Gries, and David Warshofsky) actually playing an active part. There's more stupidity to the writing - it seems to take forever to get back to Malankov after introducing him at the start, and why doesn't anybody connect that murder to the rest of the story? Malankov also has some pretty lousy goons working for him, as well, and the side-plot about the latest awkwardness between Bryan and Kim is eyeball-rolling.

And that's with Liam Neeson actually putting some effort into them. For all the ways in which the movie is lousy, at least Neeson isn't mailing it in or devolving into a parody of himself the way he was in the second movie. Janssen is okay in the time she's got, and Grace is passable, at least. I hope that Don Harvey was paying attention to Leland Orser on the set; you can see Harvey (as one of the detectives pursuing Mills) trying extremely hard to stand out while Orser makes it look like stealing scenes is nothing. Forest Whitaker either invents or is given a ton of eccentric tics as Dotzler, athough he is good enough to make the character come off as legitimately smart in addition to just weird. Sam Spruell makes a generic villain, and Dougray Scott is fairly clumsy as Stuart.

Everyone involved is treating this like it's the last "Taken" movie, although they said the same things when making the last one. If they're done, it's for the best, as the trajectory they've been following has been in a sharp downward direction. It will also make it much easier to pretend that there were no sequels to the first one, allowing it which will still be a great action movie and the only one with a spot on my shelf.

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originally posted: 01/11/15 14:34:07
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User Comments

1/19/15 KingNeutron I enjoyed it, but -1 star for killing off Famke :( 4 stars
1/18/15 Charles Tatum Worst directed action sequences I have seen in a while 2 stars
1/16/15 Bob Dog Taken 3 is a b-movie that knows it and revels in it! 5 stars
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  09-Jan-2015 (PG-13)
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  08-Jan-2015 (12A)

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