I really like Liam Neeson. I just wanted to start out this review by saying that. I think he is an amazing person and if given the right script- a superb actor. Yes, he was Qui-Gon Jinn- but remember, this was before we knew that the Star Wars prequels were going to stink more than the Pacific Trash Vortex.
Go look it up.
I think that he’s also a pretty upstanding man and to be honest, thoroughly enjoyed the first Taken. Now, I do blame him for Taken 2, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Non-Stop, The Nut Job, and Battleship. And I will certainly hold Taken 3 against him.
So Liam Neeson plays “Who Cares,” the ex covert operative from the first two films that doesn’t get any sort of character. They took his daughter, he got her back. They took his family, he got them back. This time, they take- oh, sorry, what was that? They don’t take anybody? Oh. Okay.
After the ordeal of the other movies, Bryan Mills’ (had to look that one up) ex wife confesses that she still has feelings for him, and is in a crumbling marriage with the aloof and emotionally abusive Stuart.
When he meets up with her, though Bryan finds only her dead body- and himself blamed for her murder! Now Forrest Whittaker gets involved in the manhunt for the innocent man as he tries to clear his name. Things get taken left and right! So let’s dive in:
Firstly, the franchise is tired. Hell, it was tired after the first one. It was a sort-of interesting premise and definitely had all the standard Luc Besson moments and style and I quite liked it. But that’s like me going to a restaurant and saying “I quite like those mashed potatoes,” and the cook replying with “Yeah? Well then we can just keep shoveling it into you! We won’t even take the time to prepare them with any sort of quality- we can just inject them in intravenously!” Stop. Please. it’s time to put this old dog down.
Secondly, Liam Neeson is tired. I don’t honestly believe that he wanted to make this movie. I think he got signed up for a trilogy contract or he was pressured- or maybe he really needed a new swimming pool. Whatever the reason, it shows.
The action is extraordinarily neutered as well. Remember back in Taken when the action was visceral and a dude got run over by a bus? Those were good times for movie theatre hilarity. Despite Taken 3 still having a PG-13 rating, all of the action is subdued. Now, mind you, less blood and guts can be a good thing- we Americans have this macabre love of violence and gore. It often times shocks and disturbs a lot of other countries (and oddly enough, even Liam Neeson). But Bryan Mills is a ruthless, brutal bastard. His skills are honed by assassinations and toppling Marxist republics and in the first movie it showed. In Taken, he tortured a man for information and then left him to die of electrocution. In this movie, he acts less like a killer and more like a dad. Now, if the character matched or gave any sort of reflection that because of his daughter he had mellowed out, I’d actually appreciate that. But there’s no shred of characterization to be had in this.
Much like Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker is a great actor with some questionable career decisions. Here, again, he phones it in. It doesn’t surprise me all that much, considering the last film he was in that made any sort of substantial profit margin was The Butler, and really before that was 2006’s The Last King of Scotland. Now he’s definitely done movies that have been critical successes between then- and movies that I thought were enjoyable (Repo Men, Street Kings), and lest we forget one of my favorite movies: Ghost Dog. But the guy hasn’t had a whole lot of financial booms- so I sort of get him signing up for a bigger money-maker.
The tagline for the film is “It Ends Here,” and after this installment, I sincerely hope so.
Things I liked about it: The director’s name is Olivier Megaton.
Things I disliked about it: Boring characters, cliched plot, uninspired acting, dulled action.
Should you go see it? It’s not worth your time, money, or even the film it’s printed on.
Be sure to check out my other column Trope-ic Thunder, where I discuss science tropes in the media.
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