Thursday, 8 January 2015


20th Century Fox Films

In 2008, an unassuming, ultra-violent, quasi-xenophobic thrill ride through the streets of Paris with Liam Neeson in kick-ass mode surprised everyone by being a grubby but neat actioner and a box office hit.

Sequels were, of course, inevitable but the 2012 outing, set in Istanbul and continuing on from the first -- an Albanian father seeks revenge for the death of his son, one of the many among the body count of Neeson's ex-CIA operative, Bryan Mills, in the course of his all-out mission to rescue his abducted daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) -- was a pale imitation of its predecessor. Lightning -- and Mills, with his particular set of skills -- failed to strike twice.

And yet we still get a sequel, for Hollywood is seemingly incapable of not making trilogies. But without the perverse thrills of the first film and the exotic locales of the second (Taken 2's Istanbul shoot that film's one redeeming feature), Taken 3, set on the streets and in the sewers of Los Angeles, is little more than a generic chase film which just happens to feature Mills and his daughter.

The plot involves the murder of Mills' ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and his subsequent framing for the crime. Mills goes on the run to prove his innocence, chased by Russian gangsters and a dogged police captain (Forest Whitaker), who, when he's not eating other people's bagels, slowly begins to suspect that his number one suspect might just be as innocent as he claims.

That's not before Mills has racked-up a damage bill that would make a fledgling superhero proud, and added to his ever-increasing body count. (He may be retired but hey, Mills loves what he does.) But Taken 3 has none of the thrills -- perverse or otherwise -- of that first film. As the third (and final? The tagline certainly suggests as much) entry in the franchise, box office is the key objective, thus the film's violence has been effectively neutered (there's barely even any blood) so as to garner a more audience-friendly rating and more bums on seats.

You certainly can't accuse series director, Olivier Megaton, of being subtle (with a surname like that?), but he and writer-producer, Luc Besson, have shortchanged both Mills and fans of the first Taken with this bloodless effort. Neeson may have done it for the money but Bryan Mills would never have.

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