“While nobody in Taken 3 may get taken, the money and time of long-suffering audiences are sure extracted and held captive.”

by Steve Pulaski

As I sat watching the opening credits to Taken 3, my mind began to wander in a way that it never had while watching a film. As I watched the list of names roll on the screen, I started to think about what I had to do during the next few days, what homework I had that needed to get done, what other reviews I needed to write, and what other things I could be doing at this moment in time rather than watching the third film in a franchise that was never meant to be. It was as if my subconscious tendencies were forewarning me of the unholy mess that was about to unfold and taunting me with other, more productive things I could’ve been doing rather than witnessing the second sequel to a franchise that lost nearly all its appeal halfway through the first film.

Taken 3
Directed by
Olivier Megaton
Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace
Release Date
9 January 2015
Steve’s Grade: D

Taken 3 is a bad film, but this shouldn’t come as any particular surprise, for its existence was never a thought in any executive’s head until a couple years ago. When the original Taken was released in January 2008, it was never intended as anything more than a throwaway action film that was presumably going to sneak by in multiplexes virtually unseen by the majority of the public to simply fade into obscurity. Instead, by some strange miracle, hundreds of thousands of people bought tickets and propelled Taken to over $200 million in box office earnings. Studio executives, who probably thought very little of the product initially, were now thinking of ways to continue to cater to the desires of the people, which meant not only invigorating actor Liam Neeson’s filmography with several action films, but making a sequel to a film that was never intended to even resemble anything related to a franchise.

This is precisely why Taken 2 and Taken 3 are not particularly good films, on top of several crippling directorial and editing issues; they partake in extending and drawing out the events revolving around a family of caricatures that were never written, or even rewritten or reworked, to carry the weight of three films. If anything, the sequels to Taken have just proved the fact that if you take a film that likely merited low expectations from those who released it, who then had to change their attitudes and quickly provide the public with what they want.

In Taken 3, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) returns, enjoying his retirement and trying to spend more time with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who, early in the film, discovers she is pregnant and will hide the secret from her father. Bryan is also trying to maintain a healthy relationship with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), who is now remarried to Stuart (Xander Berkeley), visiting her on occasion and possibly realizing the spark of love still exists in their friendship. One day, however, everything changes, when Bryan comes home to find Lenore dead in his apartment with the LAPD barging in soon after trying to arrest him. Bryan escapes and becomes a fugitive, with LAPD Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) dispatched to try and find Bryan. Meanwhile, Bryan works to prove his innocence and find his wife’s killers, while simultaneously protecting his daughter, the closest thing he has to Lenore.

My point about Taken originally not being conceived as a franchise should only be further proven by the fact that no one gets taken in Taken 3, clearly showing that writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen were desperate to find ways to keep this worn series going. Furthermore, the problems of Taken 2, and even the original “Taken,” still exist, with Olivier Megaton’s direction often being muddled and indiscernible, with camera angles obscuring a great deal of the action and, in turn, time and place. In addition, Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz’s editing almost effectively matches the ungainly editing of Taken 2, assisting Megaton’s direction in chopping up the film to the point where it’s as if the film was thrown into a blender and what we have left are its discombobulated remains.

Taken 3‘s sole exciting scene occurs in a liquor store, where a fight between Bryan Mills and another goon breaks out, but it follows the incredulous formula that has made the entire Taken series, in my opinion, laughable and prevented me from taking it seriously. During the fight scene, bottles are broken over heads and sometimes just hit over one’s head with great force and logic is completely defied as both characters still seem to be moving and operating fine. While contemporary American action films haven’t been known for their realism, seeing something like this occur makes me zone out and roll my eyes almost on-sight; my reactions only worsen when we see Bryan survive two fiery, crippling car accidents without any sort of scratch.

After witnessing all this, I continued to relish in the thought that this is supposed to be the concluding chapter in the franchise, further cementing the fact that the writers and those involved are entirely out of ideas and mentally-exhausted from extracting every ounce of life from an already worn story and setup. Neeson’s career may be reinvigorated with a whole new line of opportunities, but at what cost? At least his ambition to do the original Taken resulted in last year’s riveting and criminally underrated Non-Stop; there’s a film that should satisfy the same complex you’re looking to treat if you want to see Taken 3 and you don’t even need to gas up the car and put on clothes to see it.

While nobody in Taken 3 may get taken, the money and time of long-suffering audiences are sure extracted and held captive.