The promotional campaign for Taken 3 has billed it frequently as the final film in the series. Let’s hope that’s the case, because the film itself shows that this franchise should not have gone on this far.
Seriously, it’s worth remembering that the original Taken served as the introduction to Liam Neeson: Kick-Ass Movie Star. Taken has more or less defined Neeson’s career for the past several years, but as he gets older, Neeson seems to be getting a little tired of this sort of role. He’s a great actor, so there’s a certain amount of effortlessness that he brings to any of his performances, but his recent roles – Taken 3 especially – suggest he’s ready to move on.
He must not be the only one. Taken 3 is an awkwardly written hybrid of family melodrama and action flick. The entire series has revolved around the character of Bryan Mills and his family, as they come under attack from outside forces. In this case, Mills’ ex-wife Lenore is murdered, and Mills is made to look like the murderer. But before that, we have plenty of awkward family encounters between Mills and daughter Kim, who’s just discovered that she’s pregnant. Of course, when Mills finds people who are responsible in some way for his ex-wife’s death, he enacts his “particular set of skills” on them.
It’s a lot for a film, and while it’s not too far removed from the setups of Taken or Taken 2, Taken 3 feels more clumsily assembled. The twists come from closer to home this time, and can be seen coming a mile away. Forest Whitaker co-stars this time as the lead investigator in Lenore’s murder, and he’s the stereotypical lone cop who can somehow figure out that there’s more to the story than there appears. His clue is one that’s admittedly smart, but the way it’s presented is so forced that it’s impossible not to laugh.
And that’s the biggest issue I had with the film; it’s funny, but in a way that comes across like a parody of the previous films. The action sequences take frantic, hand-held moments that currently define the genre to new lows. The entire film comes off as one last cash-in for a lucrative franchise.
Liam Neeson has said he doesn’t plan on making any more Taken films. He said the same thing after Taken 2. Hopefully, he sticks to it this time, and Luc Besson’s creative team turns its attention to new projects instead.