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  Taken 3 Death Comes In Threes
Year: 2015
Director: Olivier Megaton
Stars: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Don Harvey, Dylan Bruno, Leland Orser, David Warshofsky, Jon Gries, Jonny Weston, Andrew Borba, Judi Beecher, Andrew Howard
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) doesn’t know it yet, but there were events last night that will influence the way his life goes from now on when an accountant was kidnapped and taken to an office by some Russian gangsters who wanted him to open a safe they believed contained wealth owed to them. However, it wasn’t there and their leader, Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell), opted to execute the poor man before heading off to pursue his mission elsewhere. Bryan, meanwhile, has been trying to get to know his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) better, this time by buying her the early birthday present of a large toy panda, but it doesn’t really work out; it could be down to him divorcing her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen), or it could be because she can’t admit to him she’s pregnant…

Yes, there’s quite the soap opera in Taken 3 before we reach the action you were wanting to see, with Lenore trying to rekindle her relationship with Bryan now her marriage to Stuart (Dougray Scott standing in for Xander Berkeley) is under pressure, but no sooner has that door been opened a crack than a terrible mishap occurs. Now, Neeson was very public about the fact he was only agreeing to make this sequel, not for the oodles of cash it would make him, but for the guarantee from franchise creator and producer Luc Besson that nobody would be “Taken” this time around, but he must have been very easy to please seeing as how that accountant gets whisked away from his house within the first five minutes.

It was a change from the main female character getting kidnapped in an action movie, which happens in seemingly ninety percent of them, and the original Taken took that to its illogical extreme yet even that wasn’t the final word, especially since Taken 2 saw Mills’ daughter AND wife made hostages. That said, it was as if the genre the couldn’t help itself, and so in the finale Kim is kidnapped for a third time, right under the nose of Neeson so he wouldn’t notice, but that wasn’t as bad as what happened to Lenore. Janssen was the highest billed female star here, and that was for playing more scenes as a corpse than she did as a living person (three to two), for it is her character’s murder that sets off the plot, more of a mystery than before as Mills must track down the evildoers who took his ex’s life.

To do so he uses his particular set of skills to have his stunt double run around, get into car chases and punch-ups all edited very fast indeed, presumably because they didn’t want to risk any extended shots exposing the sham that was the usual twenty-first century action sequence. All very well, but since the filmmakers were very willing to make a mockery of Lenore’s survival in the previous two movies by bumping her off without giving us enough reason to care since she barely appears before the dreadful act all of Taken 3 was an empty experience. The cops, led by bagel-obsessed detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), all think Mills is the culprit, in spite of any evidence he was resting on him running away when confronted at the scene of the crime and anything else suspicious could be easily checked.

He doesn’t have a motive for a start, though the dodgy Stuart fibs that he does, which you would have thought everyone else who knew Mills could have refuted, but even Kim doesn’t pipe up and say her stepfather is bullshitting. Though she does get a bit more to do, part of the impromptu team who provide back-up to Mills as he tries to evade capture and seek out the Russians (not Albanians this time) who actually committed the murder. Perhaps Besson was aware that his usually progressive track record on women in action thrillers was slipping thanks to his Taken association, but as said, Kim still gets spirited away for the denouement, so he wasn’t as forward thinking or revolutionary as he maybe first believed. As it was, if you could plod during a race then that is what this instalment did, full of the old sound and fury but signifying nothing as they say, not that you needed to say very much, yet for one of the most successful action series of its era you might hope for more. Music by Nathaniel Méchaly.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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