Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
At its core, the original 'Taken' was a fairly run of the mill action movie with a lot of familiar run of the mill elements.  A singular badass against a gaggle of really horrible people who have done him and his wrong.  However 'Taken' took those run of the mill action film elements and cooked them up in a way that made it awesome.  Legendary almost.  'Taken', as an action movie, is now spoken in hushed tones by action movie fans along with the likes of 'Die Hard', or 'Lethal Weapon', or 'The Professional' and 'Man on Fire'.  But the two 'Taken' sequels have become what the original 'Taken' managed to avoid being… that is run of the mill action movies.  Sub run of the mill action movies actually.  Action movies so rote and pedestrian that it almost taints the original. 

Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) is back and living in Los Angeles, his relationship with his college aged daughter Kimmy (Maggie Grace) is rock solid, and in the couple of years since 'Taken 2', his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Jannsen) is still married to the super rich schlub, and has grown supremely tired of, the slippery Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott), who looks absolutely nothing like he did in the first movie.  Hey, when your first husband was blessed with a special set of skills, it's hard to find somebody to measure up to that… know what I'm sayin'?  No matter how much money he has.

You've seen the trailer, you know nobody gets 'Taken' this time and instead somebody get tragically murdered and Brian gets framed for it.  The cops have Brian cornered, there's no way out, he is trapped… whatever.  The first incredibly frantic, almost impossible to follow action sequence has taken place and our movie is set to begin.

Hot on Brian's trail is super smart LAPD detective Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), and while he has his doubts about Brian's guilt, that is not his job as he is always one step behind the super spy.  Since Brian has already killed the entire male population of Albania, today's recipients of Brian's specialized sets of skills are some Russians, in particular the Russian evil dude Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell) who I guess is in business with Lenore's current husband, a business that went bad, which is probably the reason why Lenore met her unfortunate fate. 
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And so it goes.  Brian uses his skills, beats up people, tortures people, kills people in a very bloodless, PG-13 way… and this time he even brings in his homeboys into the operation who use their specialized skills to help out.  I liked the guy on the team with the specialized skill of looking through binoculars and letting the squad know when people left the scene.  I think I could totally do that!   Regardless of all of that, faceless goons die, revenge is about to be had, and as bonus Kimmy even finds a way to get sort of Taken.  And it is all so unimpressive, it is barely worth even talking about.

So Europa and Team Besson decided to go in a new direction with this installment of 'Taken', or rather they rented the DVD from the 'The Fugitive' and just chose to go in that direction.  But I'm not mad at them for trying to coattail off of 'The Fugitive' because that film was an iconic action movie in its own right.  You see, action movie fans are a forgiving sort.  Originality speaking, there's only so much that one can do so we are used to seeing the same stories used over and over again.  Another thing action movie fans tend to let slide is that action movies have narratives which don't always connect dots.  Tend not to make too much sense.  For instance, in this movie it looks like Lenore has been dead for a while before Brian found her, her throat slashed, not a drop of blood in his house, so this body has obviously been moved.  Two minutes of police work would've easily absolved Brian Mills of the crime, but where's the fun in that?  We let that slide. 

What is more difficult to let slide by are action sequences that are almost incomprehensible.  But alas, this is the style of director Olivier Megaton as in every single one of his movies that I have seen, he uses a technique that can only be termed as 'spastic cam', and an editing technique we will generously call Mega Cuts.  Why use one cut when ten seems to work so much better?  All of the action sequences in 'Taken 3', and the previous film which Megaton also directed, suffer from this malady, but none more so than the tour de force freeway sequence in which it is darn near impossible to get a feel for what was going in that scene, when it should've easily been the best scene in the movie. 

Now, instead of actually enjoying the action sequences, you are now just impatiently waiting for them to end, unless you brought along a Dramamine.  This kind of forces us to focus on Action Movie nonsense that we regularly would've ignored.  Such as Brian Mills now being a god and possessing time displacement transporting skills.  Or that our villains in this one are the lamest set of villains yet.  Or keeping Kimmy safe… which is his number one priority… by taking her along on his final death defying raid against murderous Russian killers.   Or asking ourselves, at the end of the movie, even if Brian Mills is cleared of his wife's murder, there is still a good 100 other or so murders, and other crimes he committed in this movie that warrants him not being able to simply walk out of a police station.  There's more, but why bother?  The point is we don't ask these questions when our action movie is actually working.

I don't know what director Pierre Morrel did to fall out of favor at Europa, perhaps he made an inappropriate solicitation of Mrs. Besson at the company Christmas party of something, but he is missed.  Now I have to go back and re-watch 'Taken' to remind myself exactly why I enjoyed that movie so much in the first place.
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