FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: To top off the franchise, I endured “Taken 3” which stars Liam Neeson (Non-Stop, Run All Night), Forest Whitaker (Phenomenon, The Butler), Maggie Grace (Lost [TV series], Lockout), Famke Janssen (X-Men , GoldenEye), Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible II, Hitman ), Sam Spruell (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Hurt Locker), Don Harvey (Die Hard 2, The Untouchables ), Leland Orser (Se7en, Independence Day), Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite, Men in Black), David Warshofsky (Captain Phillips, Now You See Me), and Johnny Weston (Project Almanac, Insurgent). It is directed by Olivier Megaton (Columbiana, Transporter 3) and is written by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Transporter, The Karate Kid ). Whether you wanted him to return or not, Liam Neeson is back in his iconic role of Bryan Mills. Long after the events of the previous film (although it isn’t really mentioned), Bryan is living a normal life again. He is hanging out with his friends, his daughter Kim (Grace), and is even bonding with his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen). But, his whole world gets turned upside down when a catastrophe happens, leading to the police chasing after Bryan for a crime he didn’t commit and him trying to clear his name.
I can’t explain to you how long I have postponed this. As you may know, I don’t review many up-to-date movies, mainly because I only get the chance to see them in the theater a couple of times a year, or every Friday with a Redbox release. It is a very small window of opportunity so I try to make the most of it, picking ones I think are more needed of a review than others. So of course “Taken 3” was at the bottom of the barrel. The first film was spectacular, which you can see the review here, but the second movie was utter garbage, which you can read that here. Granted, it took me a couple of months to change my generous score of “Taken 2,” but if you watched that film the first time and then analyzed it, you will reconsider the way you think about it as well. I didn’t expect this to be a good movie. It has the same writers and director of the last film so there was no possible way that they will reach the first film standard, leaving the only reason for me watching this being to complete the franchise, since I am a bit of a franchise/marathon fanatic (I wouldn’t watch a marathon of this, however). Before I delve into this great review (not movie aspect, writing aspect), I wanted to observe who wrote this. Do you see who wrote this film? The same people who wrote “The Fifth Element,” “Leon: The Professional,” “The Karate Kid” (1984), and “The Transporter.” All famous films, but yet they write this. What were they thinking? I commend them for the first one, but why stretch it into a series? It makes no sense! I guess these guys really needed the money or something. Anyway, to start, I want to take a look at this flick’s plot. Basically you have a “The Fugitive” situation. It is a blatant copy off of the 1993 Harrison Ford movie in terms of basics so in a way it was predictable, but then again even if it wasn’t a copy, you can still tell what will happen. What makes matters worse is the fact that the trailer basically gives away the shocking moment. Yeah, the ad campaign crew for this movie decided it would be a good idea to spoil the main issue even though it wasn’t. So if you haven’t seen the trailer and actually want to bite a bullet in seeing this, don’t watch the link below. Outside of the fact that it is copying off of one storyline, I do admit that it actually doesn’t follow the code to the other films in terms of someone getting taken……wait…..never mind, someone actually does, but that isn’t until later. The problem with this film is how the second one basically beat these characters and atmosphere to a pulp to where I can’t sit through one without automatically thinking that it is bad. It isn’t a healthy thing to think walking into it, I know, but I can’t help it when stupid things happen for no reason, which quite a bit of them do. Not as much crazy things as “Taken 2,” but noticeable ones. One example has to be a scene where Bryan gets rammed off a road by another car and his vehicle goes tumbling down a long, rocky mountain slide only to blow up at the end (I was thinking of the “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” scene where Jim Carrey lands his car in a parking spot after crashing and rolling in it for five minutes to say “like a glove!”). No one can survive through that, but of course he lives. Another thing that made no sense in this movie’s plotline whatsoever is the writers’ obsession with bagels. I can’t tell you how many times a bagel shop was brought up or how many times I saw Forest Whitaker eat a bagel. They even had Liam Neeson say the word bagel about two or three times. It had no point. They tried to explain it at the end, but it still made no lick of sense. Bagels aren’t the only thing promoted, cars too. Several shots taken of the front of someone’s car were seen, especially a Mercedes. The story tries to provide a sense of stress or thrill, but none of it lands because I know Bryan will live and catch the bad guys because he does it all the time. And by this third entry, I’m actually sick of it. It can drag or move in a lot of different directions, mainly to stall for the final act, making it a long viewing to sit through. Plus, when the ending reaches, it is rather anti-climatic. Once the thing we have been waiting for happens, I kind of just sat there and didn’t realize it until the credits rolled (which happened five minutes after the “climax” happened). This is because in my mind, the story already wrapped up a while before. It is rather sad that it has stooped this low in my head. Other than the plot, let me write about the acting/characters. The acting was okay. Liam Neeson is always cool, it’s a given, but they give his character stupid things to say or do at times that just ruin his character. Everyone did an alright job. The villain was rather useless because I felt no real danger from one guy, rather than his henchmen. Forest Whitaker was okay, but his character seemed very one-dimensional as did the rest of the characters. No one had real depth to them, leaving me with an ensemble who’s only purpose is to entertain me rather than get me involved. The last aspect I have to critique on this movie is a combination of the cinematography and action scenes. This is directed by Olivier Megaton who apparently loves the idea of fast cuts and I hate it. The guy isn’t the best director because he can’t give me time to focus on a situation or have one sink in. There has to be at least three different vantage points switching on and off for Bryan to say one sentence. It is worse when it is an action scene. Almost all of them are incomprehensible. There is one scene where Bryan jumps out a window and onto a dumpster. The simple and good way (if you’re good) is to film it in one, possibly two, shots. But Megaton apparently has to have thirty shots of him falling to get a point across, and it hurts my head. It is definitely something to brush off. In terms of what I liked about it, that’s hard to say. The color tones are nice, adding a gritty texture to the surrounding area that the characters are in. I will also say that I never got bored. It is better than the second installment, let’s just put it that way. It has a mediocre story that I can sit through and provides enough entertainment to get by. I don’t recommend anyone to watch this, however, for it has way more cons than pros. This series should have ended after the first one and I really hope that they don’t make another one. FINAL SCORE: 54%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer: