If Taken 3 was made 20 years ago it would have starred Steven Seagal would probably not even be called Taken 3. Somehow back then they didn’t just make sequels, they just made the same type of movie over and over again by just changing the title and character names. Today, they want to capitalize as much as possible on familiar brand names and so we get a third outing of Liam Neeson as the man with a particular set of skills: ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills. This time Bryan has to find a way to prove that he’s innocent of the murder of his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Jansen) and to do so he takes the same route Need For Speed did: by breaking every law in the book.
In the previous two Taken movies Neeson went on a killing spree in Paris and Instanbul. Because these are two foreign countries it’s plausible he can get away with this because he can easily go back to the States and not have to worry about an extradition treaty of some sort. I’m not entirely 100% sure on this but for the sake of movie making I’m assume this works this way. But in Taken 3, which takes entirely place on U.S. soil, we have to come to terms that, like Seagal in On Deadly Ground and Aaron Paul in Need For Speed, Neeson can break the law and nobody from law enforcement even thinks twice about it because the end justifies the means. Authorities ignoring Seagal blowing up an oil rig and Aaron Paul street racing while endangering the lives of many was already beyond plausible, but Taken 3 takes it even a step further. These are some of the things Bryan does in order to find the guy who murdered his ex-wife and poses a threat to his daughter:
- Resisting arrest
- Assaulting multiple police officers
- Hijacking a police vehicle
- Impersonating a police officer
- Starting a car chase in a stolen police vehicle resulting in $100,000s of property damages and probably causing injuries or even off-screen deaths
- Breaking into the morgue
- (In)voluntary manslaughter
- Making unauthorized use of police databases
- Threatening a civilian at gun point and forcing him to drive him to the nearest gas station
- Second degree murder
- Setting off a smoke grenade in a school
- Sneaking into the girls bathroom of said school
There’s probably more, but at the end of the movie he’s just given a slap on the wrist by Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) and walks out of the police station without a care in the world. I would love to see some prosecutor watch this movie and draft up an exact list of all the crimes Bryan commits just to prove his innocence, which would have probably been proven just as easy in custody since the whole set-up scheme is shaky at least. Even Dotzler acknowledges that he didn’t buy the set-up right form the start. Taken 3 really takes place in its own world where laws only apply to people with a bad agenda.
The funny thing about Taken 3 is that actually nobody is taken this time, unless you consider Lenore being dragged into a van and left in Bryan’s bedroom as taken. But the other people never considered her as being “taken” because her body was found, before they even realized she was gone.
As an action movie it’s all very entertaining. It’s fun how Neeson found his action star niche this late in his career. Here’s a 63 year old actor running around as if he’s in his twenties. Though he does have help from some frantic editing, so frantic you at some point have difficulty seeing what’s going on, especially during the lengthy car chase in the middle of the movie. Neeson is his own gruff voiced self, but the script provides him hardly any cool one-liners, which made this franchise famous in the first place ever since he picked up the phone and threatened the guy on the other line in the original Taken.
Somehow Neeson is still so flexible at his age that he can outrun an automatic machine gun being fired at him, as well as multiple explosions at places where he’s seemingly trapped in. At no point does Taken 3 move into the realm of realism.
But does it really matter? This this is the 3rd chapter in what was originally conceived as a one-time-movie like so many of the movies Luc Besson’s production company churns out: Three Days To Kill, From Paris With Love, The Family, Lockout. Only a select few get sequels (Taken, Taxi and Transporter) and even in those cases they’re hardly warranted.
Too bad all the supporting actors’ talents are wasted. Whitaker is on auto-pilot playing a character he has been playing ever since Species and was also seen in The Shield, The Last Stand, Street Kings etc. Famke, despite 3rd billing, has nothing more than a cameo as she’s into a handful of scenes in the first 15 minutes of the movie and one or two scenes with actual dialogue. Maggie Grace, who always seems to be cast in Besson produced movies, is once again the rather hapless daughter, which is strange considering how she held her own in the previous movie.
Taken 3 will please the people who enjoyed the previous two movies but won’t convince fresh viewers to also watch the previous movies. It’s dumb, mindless action, but it also fun to watch. Taken 3 is like a snack in between meals.