Taken 3 review: Third time’s the charm. Just kidding

I consider the first Taken film to be an ambitious one. It’s a movie laden with its own clichés and it works surprisingly well as an action-thriller hybrid. It was gritty and took us through the filthy underworld of sex, drugs and slavery — a rarity for Blockbuster action films. While it wasn’t visceral or graphic, the brutality was still there and was never truly overshadowed by Liam Neeson’s particular set of skills. Taken was a surprise hit.

Taken 2 deviates so much from what made its predecessor exciting and worth watching. Instead it decides to bloat the film with more clichés, more plot contrivances and just stupid sequences of happenstance. Taken 3 emulates all of the problems that made Taken 2 an absolute disappointment and still plods along with a big, stupid, top of the weekend box-office-eating grin on its face.

Neeson plays Bryan Mills, retired covert operative who’s framed for the murder of his ex-wife (Famkee Jansen). Pitted against an equally clever detective (Forest Whitaker) and his team of detectives, Mills utilizes his skills to find his wife’s killer and bring them to justice.

One of the major gripes is that the film has been edited to fit a PG-13 market, which means a distinct lack of blood and characters meant to be swearing are edited into saying something far more tame in post-production. However, my biggest problem is the fascination with using a handheld camera during a fight scene. Is the film violent? I don’t know – I could never see it. Fight scenes are a symphony of bones breaking, grunting and then we get a fixed shot of Neeson just as a reminder to show you who won. Why bother choreographing stunts or even mention your main character as a man of many skills if you won’t show them to your audience? It’s almost as if the camera is trying to drift into a better movie.

The film is also filled with plot holes and so many deus ex machinas. Neeson’s character is smart and calculating, but the film puts him in these impossible situations that allow him to come out unscathed. It’s hard to build tension when you can knowingly put your character in the middle of an explosion and just show him in the next scene as if nothing happened.

Are you wondering, “Is the movie so bad, that it’s good?” A movie so bad that it’s good has a sort of self-awareness paired with an equal sense of ignorance. An over-seriousness while at the same time, a distinct lack of effort. Taken 3 doesn’t fall into that bracket because it takes itself too seriously. It never allows itself to be swept away in it’s own ridiculousness. Instead it’s stone faced for its entire run time.

Taken 3 is far away from a top 10 in awful action movies, due only to the absolute heaven that is Liam Neesons’s voice, but with its senseless plodding, its under-utilization of a talented main cast and its complete ignorance of its initial roots – it does stand as a bad film.

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