After 2012’s follow up to Taken, we get a third (and supposedly final) installment to the Taken franchise. In this film, nobody’s really “taken,” except maybe for the audience. Released in 2014, Taken 3 brings back writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen and director of the second film Olivier Megaton for a seemingly tiresome ploy to somehow capitalize on the moderate success of this particular action franchise.
This film also brings back the Mills family – Bryan (Liam Neeson), Lenore (Famke Janssen), and Kim (Maggie Grace) – and is set in Los Angeles. Bryan and Lenore are still divorced, but have a friendship going after the events of the other films and having Kim in common. This relationship puts a damper on Lenore’s current beau, Stuart (Dougray Scott), who simply asks Bryan to stop seeing her. After an opening sequence that doesn’t really get answered until much later (and is a weak plot point at best), Bryan goes to meet his ex at his place after receiving a text from her. He arrives and soon discovers she has been murdered. Of course, the police are alerted anonymously and Bryan has to fight his way out to go on the run.
That’s the premise. And that’s what moves the film into the second act and an unbelievable high-speed foot chase. Bryan leads the police through the streets to a house where he barges in on the unsuspecting couple, runs upstairs, then finally to a garage where he somehow knows there is a hole, covered with boards, underneath a car, that leads to the sewer. And I thought some of the sequences in the second film were a bit outlandish. I suppose, though, if you are an excellent former CIA operative with incredible skills, it could be slightly plausible you would have escape routes, weapons and gear hidden around the city like some great covert Easter Egg Hunt. But I digress. Bryan is on the run and his mission is to find out who murdered his wife and who framed him.
The film’s redemption is Neeson’s performance. Despite the obscure sequences, plot, and storylines, he still brings something to the character, but not at the level of his first outing. I’m sure he did what he could with the material he was given and Megaton’s direction. The addition of Forest Whitaker as Franck Dotzler, the police officer charged with bringing Mills in, but is always seemingly one step behind, offers a decent performance. However, it still lacks depth. For the most part, the performances were lackluster and 2-dimensional.
The cinematography is not as breathtaking in this film as the other two (France and Turkey) although it seems to utilize the locations well and serves the purpose of the film. But with that, the action and story doesn’t quite move along as well in this outing (not necessarily because of the cinematography, but story itself) because it is more drawn out (at nearly 20 minutes longer) than the first two installments. The camera movements made the fight scenes and chase scenes a little too fast-paced to easily follow to allow the audience to fully be aware of the surroundings and scope of the action.
Taken 3 is not about the characters being taken, it’s about the audience being taken, taken for a near 2-hour ride of quick-moving, incongruent scenes with a weak story. The characters, story and action of this film did not have enough substance for me to enjoy this film as sometimes that helps me retain interest. Maybe a better vision for this film would have helped. I don’t know. What I do know, there are other films, and even a television show, in this genre that do it better.