It takes a movie like Taken 3 to raise a few questions to mind. Deep, existential questions that will haunt me forever, such as:
- How is it that a director with a name like Oliver Megaton is entirely unable to shoot action scenes?
- Does anybody actually proof-read a Luc Besson script?
- Was the first Taken a complete and utter fluke?
- How long has Liam Neeson just been in this for the dollar, yo?
The reason these questions come so immediately to mind is that Taken 3 isn’t very good. In fact, let’s cut right to the barely beating heart of this already stagnant point. Taken 3 outright sucks and it sucks in damn near every way.
A few years after saving both his daughter and ex-wife from Albanian mobsters, ex black ops agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is living in Los Angeles. Before long, Bryan finds his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) murdered in his apartment and Mills must use his particular set of skills once more to find and bring to justice the murderers.
“Or does he?”, I ask somewhat facetiously, because the movie never really seems sure. It takes nearly two thirds of the running time before Bryan comes up against any of the actual villains of the movie, as Taken 3 decides to spend the bulk of it’s running time focusing on ever increasingly wild and daring escapes from police and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t include two of the most boring and incomprehensible chase scenes I’ve yet seen in a multiplex. Megaton’s direction is a scattershot amalgamation of shaky cam action and close ups pushed so far into the action that most of the action sequences come off as confusing blurs. These sequences have an average of four cuts per second and there is nary a wide or medium shot in sight to establish where the characters are, or where the characters are going or how they would get there or what they are doing. It’s a colossal mess that takes roots from the original frenetic style of the first Taken and blows it up to inane proportions. It, frankly, makes Michael Bay’s worst output seem masterful in comparison.
If the action itself is impossible to make sense of, it’s only fair to say that the plotting is utterly hysterical in its absolute lack of sense. As well as being just mind numbingly silly (boring silly rather than fun silly) the editing has a terrible habit of just fast forwarding to the next thing that happens with no lead up or explanation of what is actually happening. In the latter third of the movie, Bryan finishes one fight sequence, only to jump into a car and start chasing down another mystery car. At no point is it suggested by any character who might be in the vehicle or even by Bryan himself; we’re expected to just assume that he at least knows what he’s doing. Twenty minutes later the script backtracks and attempts to explain Bryan’s motivation and intent but holding back wholly necessary information for the sake of a shitty plot twist is patently lazy writing that only adds to the tenuousness of any personal or emotional beats that Taken 3 tries (and frequently fails) to hit.
Wretched action, tiresome characters and plotting that’s obscenely bad means that if anybody thinks about making a fourth installment, I hope that next time they take Taken and don’t give it back.
Attempting to cash in on the superstar that the first Taken turned Liam Neeson into, Taken 3 is an ugly and fairly insulting mess that nobody needs to expose themselves to. Not even people who enjoyed Taken 2.
Taken 3 is out now in cinemas everywhere.