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Taken 3

D: Olivier Megaton / 109m

Cast: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Don Harvey, Dylan Bruno, Andrew Howard, Jonny Weston

When Bryan Mills (Neeson) receives a visit from his ex-wife Lenore, it’s because she wants to let him know she still has feelings for him, and that her marriage – to Stuart St John (Scott) – is on the rocks. Bryan tells her that they can’t be together while she’s still married. Stuart pays him visit as well and asks Bryan to stay away from Lenore while they try to sort out their marriage; Bryan tells him he will.

The next day, Lenore asks to meet Bryan at his place. When he gets there he finds she’s been murdered. The police arrive and try to arrest him but he escapes. He tells his daughter, Kim (Grace) what’s happened and vows to find Lenore’s killer. The police, led by Inspector Franck Dotzler (Whitaker), pursue Bryan while he tries to figure out the reason for Lenore’s death. He learns that Stuart has hired personal bodyguards and, fearing Kim is in danger from Lenore’s killer and Stuart is somehow involved, he abducts Stuart and learns that he owes a lot of money to a Russian gangster named Oleg Malankov (Spruell), and that Lenore’s death was probably to make Stuart pay up. With the help of his ex-CIA colleagues (Orser, Gries, Warshofsky), Bryan goes after Malankov, intending to kill him.

Taken 3 - scene

And so, the law of diminishing returns rears its predictable head and helps bury yet another action franchise. It shouldn’t really be a surprise, as this was a movie that wouldn’t have been made if 20th Century Fox hadn’t wanted it in the first place. With that decision made, and with Neeson unwilling to star unless no one was actually “taken”, you can see how the project was doomed from the start. As it is, no one could have been prepared for just how little effort was going to be put in by all concerned. From the lazy, credibility-free script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, to the wayward, unfocused¬†direction by Megaton, to the headache-inducing, rapid cross-cutting of the action scenes, to the (mobile) phoned-in performances from a cast that should know better.

Just how bad is it? Two examples: Lenore is killed by having her throat cut, but when Stuart has to identify her at the morgue she clearly has a scar where the cut should be. And despite being “trapped” in an underground car park full of police, Bryan escapes with ease by driving through them all and exiting the car park – which the police haven’t thought to cordon off or block. There are plenty of other moments where the unfortunate viewer will be shaking their head in disbelief, and plenty of other moments where they’ll be wondering if it can get any worse – the answer is yes, it can.

Rating: 3/10 – a sad conclusion to an otherwise entertaining if always far-fetched action franchise, Taken 3 is a spectacular misfire that often defies explanation; if there is to be a fourth movie – and Neeson appears to be keen on the idea – then maybe the tag line will be It Really Does End Here… Probably.

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