Let me be very upfront. I saw Taken back when it came out in theaters and haven’t seen it since. I never saw Taken 2. So I went into Taken 3 with zero expectations and little-to-no memory of the storylines. I figured I probably wouldn’t need to, as I don’t think this story would rely too heavily on the past storylines.
So… Was Taken 3 a fun action movie or a January flop?
Liam Neeson stars as ex-military superstar Bryan Mills, who has a very specific set of skills. His family has been on the wrong end of things in both the previous movies and this one is no different. His ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is murdered in his home and all evidence points towards Mills doing it. So he has to run from the police and try to solve who really killed her, all while protecting his daughter (Maggie Grace).
That’s basically it.
Very little. Sadly.
There were one or two action moments that were kind of cool but overall this movie failed on almost every front. I don’t think it’s because I don’t know all the context of the story, these failings are almost all technical in nature.
What doesn’t work?
Okay… Where to start.
Let’s begin with the script. When the movie was on the page, did it look like a good movie? I doubt it. There’s a few big issues with the script. 1.) It’s beyond over-the-top. I wanted this movie to showcase Liam Neeson as a badass. Instead, his one-liners are laughable and almost making fun of the franchise he’s in. In other movies, this self-referential nature might work, but here, it was a detraction to the movie. 2.) The villain is one-dimensional, unmotivated, and overall underutilized. The opening scene with Oleg Malankov (played by Sam Spruell) is interesting but then we don’t see him again for probably an hour. They make a point to mention that he’s ex-military and incredibly dangerous, but we never see that. And 3.) The actions of Bryan Mills in this movie just don’t make sense. He did not kill his wife but instead of just saying that, he becomes the target of a manhunt across all Southern California. Even when he speaks to the detective in charge, he doesn’t use his words to help his cause, he is standoffish and a detriment to himself. Oh and 4.) His daughter is horrible and was incredibly unlikeable and I didn’t care what happened to her.
Now, the movie is made. The script may not have been great but director Olivier Megaton (who also did Taken 2) managed to somehow make it worse.
Imagine this. Imagine an action movie where the director didn’t let a single shot last longer than 2 seconds. Even when people are talking, it was a fast-paced series of cuts and strange angles and weird closeups. It was like a trailer. Or a music video. I got dizzy many times because it was so jarring. And the action scenes were even worse, where you never see a punch land because it’s edited too quickly, almost as though they did the fight choreography one move at a time. “Alright Liam, you’re going to punch him. … Andddd cut.” And then the next move. It’s horrible. It lacks any sort of visceral impact, is hard to follow, and is generally a really weak way to shoot action. Is Liam Neeson too old now to shoot a real action scene? Maybe that’s the problem.
Did I mention at one point Liam drives a car into a building and down an elevator shaft? This movie is ridiculous in all the wrong ways.
I feel like even if I knew the full context of the previous Taken movies, it wouldn’t have saved this movie. On paper, it makes no sense, yet the director managed to make the film worse in its execution. Movies like this get released in January so that they have no competition and that’s the only reason this film will make any money. When the credits started rolling, I said out loud: “This movie was trash.” Don’t see it.