How did we get to this? The original Taken released in 2008 was meant as a throw away. It had been released in Europe months earlier and was not expected to be a major player on 20th Century Fox’s release schedule. In fact, the studio tossed the film to the wolves with a January release expecting to possibly recoup their monies with theatre patrons not doling out for the heavy hitting dramas that lurk during the year end awards season.
Much to Fox’s surprise, Taken was a bona fide hit and the action surrounding retired CIA agent Bryan Mills and the protection of his family took in more than $140 million at the domestic box office. A sequel was inevitable. These things tend to happen when you reap in over 9X the production budget. So Taken 2 again saw star Liam Neeson fighting bad guys when the family with a connection to the 35 men Mills killed in the original film seeks revenge.
Taken 2 didn’t feel as fresh as the original, but the action was amped up and the film slayed its way to an even greater piece of the box office pie gathering in over $320 million by the time all the dust settled.
Obviously, the producers wanted a boxed set trilogy so they coaxed Neeson back for his third turn in six years for the apt titled Taken 3. In this third installment, Bryan Mills is accused for a murder which he didn’t commit and he is forced again to use his unique talents to both clear his name and bring justice to those who wronged his family. Ho-hum.
Here is what is wrong with Taken 3 – everything. The dialogue is flat and just variations of other lines uttered in the previous two films (“I know you know a lot of people, and with a good lawyer you’ll get out of jail in a few years. And then I’ll come for you. I’ll find you, and we both know what’s gonna happen.”). The action is uninspired and routine. And the story is about as interesting as a trip to the dentist. As we sat enduring this painful entry in the series we were audibly yelled “Pull-eze!” and “Oh, come on!” at the screen in hopes that star Neeson would be able to hear us before he cashed in his paycheck.
Academy Award Winner Forest Whitaker leaves his talent at home to play a variation of the character he played in The Last Stand which only further deflates our enthusiasm towards the entire endeavor. There is a plot twist, if you can call it that, but nothing that came out of left field or that you wouldn’t have seen coming an hour before the reveal. And then there’s the action that is cut and pasted together with quick edits that hurt your eyes and senses trying to keep up with the endless snips. To think that the film Birdman had 12 cuts in the entire film and Taken 3 had 13 cuts in a simple scene of someone running down an ally and jumping a fence only adds to my argument.
Taken 3 should be avoided. Much like Lethal Weapon 3 and Mad Max 3, the idea was dry and the actors seemed uninspired as they meandered through a script that could not have possibly spoken to their marrow.