Release date: 8 January 2015
Running time: 109 min
Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Forest Whitaker
Rejoice! Everyone’s favourite psycho Dad is back for the 3rd instalment in the world’s most archaic franchise. Almost completely inept in every sense, Taken 2 was a vast step-down from its far superior but still utterly farcical predecessor. Thanks to the Hollywood number crunchers, Taken‘s most valuable asset -the unflinching and hilariously brutal violence- was replaced with incomprehensible shaky cam, taking the rating down to a family-friendly 12A. Taken 3 -or Tak3n– is much the same. Wholesome, family-friendly fare: you can finally take your kids to see Liam Neeson indulging in a spot of waterboarding.
After his daughter Kim (Grace) was taken in Paris, and then he was taken in Istanbul, Bryan Mills (Neeson) is now taking a well deserved break from the hellish kidnapping nightmare that is Europe. Taking it easy in LA, he can be found occasionally popping by to see Kim, playing some Golf with his BFFs, or shaking up his ex-wife Lenny (Janssen)’s marriage by having her round his house for some sexual tension and/or bagels. Everything’s coming up Bryan. Then one day, after picking up some of the aforementioned bagels, he gets home to find his dear Lenny with her throat slashed. The poor guy just can’t catch a break.
Of course, Bryan reacts as any reasonable man would: by high-tailing it outta dodge and perpetuating untold amounts of carnage in his wake. Stopping by his batcave first, of course, to pick up the trademark leather jacket so he can look full mid-life-crisis while he lurks around corners and casually throws grenades about in public (again). It essentially wants to be The Fugitive, with Whitaker as Tommy Lee Jones. Although entirely inept, of course.
Taken 3, as you have probably gathered, is thoroughly terrible. And yet there is something endearingly asinine about the whole thing, with its complete predictability and bizarre exchanges; the utterly banal, stilted conversations are still written as if by a robot trying to understand human interaction. In fact, predictability as a personality trait is even used as a plot point, with the main characters being so predictable that Bryan uses this to his advantage in thwarting the cops. It’s almost as if it has become self aware. Almost.
Characterisation is also once again thinner than Himalayan air, with the likes of Forest Whitaker’s detective resorting to multiple affectations to convey his detectiveness. He carries about and fondles a chess piece for no reason and thwacks elastic bands against his wrists while he stares into space, thinking about his pay-cheque. You wonder if this was written in or if Whitaker was just desperate to inject something at all equatable to a personality into the blandness. Maggie Grace this time round is both sad AND pregnant (that’s two things!) and Dougray Scott is sad AND possibly (read: totally) dodgy.
Quite how Taken has become such a successful franchise is a somewhat of a mystery. It was originally intended to be straight to DVD, a B-movie combining the ambiguous politics of 24 and the daft violence of Commando. What it has become is an increasingly surrealist exercise in misjudged filmmaking. Director Olivier Megaton is encroaching on Uwe Bolle territory, and Luc Besson is progressively becoming a tiresome self-parody. Positively bollocks, but also weirdly compelling. T4ken? Anyone?