In a recent interview while promoting the film, Liam Neeson said: “It would be insulting if someone got taken in Taken 3.” Evidently the 62-year-old star of the money-grabbing action franchise is aware of just how ridiculous these movies keep getting. After rescuing his daughter who was kidnapped by a gang of Albanian sex traffickers in Paris in 2008’s surprise hit Taken, Neeson’s character, ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills found himself chasing after abductors who’d picked up his wife during a family holiday in Istanbul in that film’s underwhelming 2012 sequel. In this third film, however, it’s us, the viewers, who’re taken for a ride.
The film’s slim plot kicks into gear after Mills is framed for the murder of his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). Predictably, he goes on the run from the cops, determined to find out who really did this. What follows are a half-dozen car-chase scenes on the LA freeway, and enough shootouts to render you temporarily deaf.
Even if you were to overlook the shoddy writing, it’s hard to forgive an action flick for delivering substandard action scenes. Too much hand-held camerawork and frantic editing often makes it hard to distinguish who’s doing what to whom, and frankly there isn’t a single moment of tension in the film, thereby leaving you mostly bored and disinterested.
Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker shows up as a supposedly smarter-than-your-average detective – we know this because he’s constantly playing with a chess piece in his hand – but as it turns out, you’ve figured out this case before he has. Maggie Grace returns as Mills’ daughter Kim, who basically has to look upset throughout the film. And Dougray Scott takes the part of Lenore’s husband Stuart whom she was planning on leaving before she’s suddenly killed.
Taken 3 doesn’t work, not even as a guilty pleasure, because the cheap thrill of watching an ageing Neeson deliver visceral blows to the bad guys has lost its novelty now. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five. Don’t waste your time or your money.