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Review: Taken 3

How can someone be kidnapped three times in a row? Well, Taken 3 doesn’t follow the template of its inaugural, mesmerizing story (or the second, redundant, boring story), instead opting for something different. And because it’s different than what this franchise headed by Luc Besson has done before, it ends up being just like most other action thrillers involving revenge and a personal grudge. Except worse.

It’s got a bevy of clichés: innocent man framed for murder, a sage-like sergeant, inaccurate bullets, drunken bad guys, and fast-edited, incomprehensible actions sequences. Also slimy businessmen, slimy husbands, and slimy cops. Still with us?

Well, this time, sometimes-retired former special ops agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is pulled back into a deadly game of gangs and money and bad things, what have you. Now though, he is the target, so while trying to find and kill the various villains (as he is wont to do), he is also evading police officers, including Forest Whitaker’s idiosyncratic detective.

While he is the more enjoyable character in this film (perhaps because he is a playing a role he’s played in every movie), Liam Neeson seems a bit exhausted, as does everything about this film (though Dougray Scott plays well the new husband of Mills’ ex, played by Famke Janssen). The aforementioned action sequences are not only hard to follow, but boring at that, and lacking any modicum of intensity or emotion.

That’s where the original Taken triumphed, and here we are treated to increasingly diminished returns (like when Michael Keaton cloned himself, the third one is worse than the second is worse than the first. Or like The Hangover franchise). And oh how far Taken has fallen. It’s harder to enjoy the frivolous chaos and smirking one-liners when one scene involves a bomb going off at school (not like that, but still) and another features water-boarding. Juxtapose that with Russian mobsters saying “let’s go get drunk” and Neeson paraphrasing his famed quote from the first film, and we’ve got a messy and uncomfortable journey.

Utterly joyless and inexplicably oscillating between campy and creepy, despite wanting to enjoy this cast for another round, Taken 3 reeks of contractual obligations and laziness.

[star v=1]

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.