Taken 3 Review
‘Do you know what I fantasize about?’ asks Famke Janssen of Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills, cradling his hand as the audience uses all but a millisecond to work out the answer. Personally, I fantasize about the time when watching Neeson punch his way through wave after wave of questionably accented mercenaries was fun. The same cannot be said of Taken 3, in which Mills is framed for the murder of his ex-wife and forced to escape underground – via a handy storm drain – in order to find out who set him up (imagine the first Taken with an injection of The Fugitive through a dirty needle).
It’s really quite depressing to see the flinch-inducing action of the original Taken – which packed a solid punch – reduced to 12a-rated fare which is almost entirely bloodless despite gunshot wounds and slit throats placed right in front of the camera. What has the mainstream action thriller come to when even a scene of interrogation by waterboarding feels utterly numb? Even sequences which do allude to high octane, bone-crunching destruction are laughably performed, not helped by a musical score that appears to have wandered in from an entirely different genre.
Neeson, bless his heart, looks and sounds plain bored throughout the entire film, even when reading aloud a text containing a crucial plot twist (which, by the way, you’ll see coming from miles away). Maggie Grace doesn’t actually appear to move her face at all during the proceedings, whilst Forest Whitaker is saddled with the ‘cool and calculated’ detective role. How do we know he’s cool and calculated? Well, as if enigmatically carrying around a chess piece wasn’t enough, he also has the elastic band of doom which he twangs whenever something doesn’t go his way. No, really. The supporting cast are merely a selection of carefully chosen bystanders, thrown mercilessly through a plot that just meanders awkwardly – and loudly – from set piece to set piece.
And in the end that’s all Taken 3 is; a collage of bits thrown together by an editor with all the skill and grace of a five year-old on a sugar high: from the epileptic opening titles to the by-the-numbers finale, it’s intermittently infuriating, unintentionally hilarious, but mostly dull as ditch water.