When the first Taken film was released back in 2008 and made a surprising amount of money worldwide, it was inevitable that a franchise would ensue. So along came Taken 2 which, in spite of it being a decisively watered down version of the previously brutal revenge formula (another case of the studio wanting to lower the age rating to get more bums on seats), made an even bigger splash at the box office.
And so now we have the unavoidable, obligatory Taken 3, a film which stinks to high heaven of existing purely for the sake of dragging on the franchise for as long as people seem to be interested, seemingly without thought for, oh I don’t know, actually making a decent, competent action movie in the process. Is that too much to ask?
In some sort of vein, half-hearted attempt to flip the series’ blueprint on its head, instead of Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson growling his way to another fat paycheck) trying to track down random foreign bad guy #37 in a land that isn’t the good old US of A, he is back on home turf. Everything seems to be going okay; he is starting to half way patch things up with his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is in a stable relationship, seemingly safe from any and all harm. However, Bryan must suddenly go on the run and once again utilize his very particular set of skills when he is accused of a brutal murder he didn’t commit or even witness. As well as avoiding the police, headed by the ruthless Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), he sets out to clear his name and find the real culprit.
It’s a lazy, perfunctory, increasingly preposterous plot that leads the way for a badly made franchise actioner. Even if, like me, you had a problem with the morality presented in the first Taken, at least the action sequences had vicious, bone-crunching bite to them. Unfortunately the third and – if we’ve to believe the “it ends here” tagline – last in the series takes a watered down leaf out of the last one’s book. Under the direction of the appropriately and bombastically named Olivier Megaton and the all-seeing eye of producer/writer Luc Besson, the vital action sequences – ranging from the usual shootouts and car chases to hand-to-hand combat against a barrage of generic baddies – lack any and all impact thanks to ADD editing and over-reliance on (ropey) CGI, intermittently interrupted by dud attempts at emotional impact.
Forest Whitaker for some reason joins in on the action this time around, basically playing the same character he played in the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Last Stand, spending the whole film here on the phone and pointing at boards with clues on them, physically always a few steps behind the now illogically still standing Bryan (the character has gone from a skilled but still mortal agent to a practically invulnerable machine) but somehow mentally way ahead of him with his love and knowledge of bagels; this genuinely might be the first action movie where bagels are actually an essential, critical plot point.
That’s the silly level at which this incoherent, messily directed, daftly-plotted sequel sits. Nothing makes a lick of sense, with a hackneyed script that so often makes laps of logic and jumps to conclusions to the point where the suspension of disbelief snaps in half, and it doesn’t have the effective action-packed goods to work in spite of that. It once again proves that the whole Taken saga should have retired after its first assignment.