Movie Review: Taken 3 Ends Trilogy on Sour Note

Based on the action thriller’s premise and promising trailer, it would seem that it fell into the latter category. Bryan (Liam Neeson) once again being called on to utilize his secret-service training after being accused of murdering his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) is the stuff of formulaic but guilty pleasure material. Despite this, TAKEN 3 is one of the most uninspired, cringe-worthy ventures in recent memory. While few are going to head into the film expecting anything more than catchy one-liners and endless chase sequences, many will be shocked at just how little effort was put into the project.

Its main hindrance stems from a lazy script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen that feels more like a Key and Peele sketch mocking a typical action flick than a narrative. From the first frame on, it’s one cliche after another. This includes the bulk of the dialogue, which features lines like, “Why are you doing this?” There are also moments like the archetypical Russian villain finally getting the chance to kill the person he’s been hunting the entire film only to stall the moment he’s has a gun pointed at them to start having a conversation - giving the person at his mercy time to kick the weapon out of his hand.  

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Among those chasing Bryan is Detective Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) who spends more time eating evidence than he does attempting to secure his target. Whitaker’s dull role is just another signifier of the potential that’s wasted.

The first film, which succeeded on word-of-mouth buzz, took an engaging and reality-based storyline - young woman is kidnapped and sold into the sex trade in Paris - and added a popcorn-bait twist - her father is an former CIA operative, the best in fact, and he’s going to raise hell until he finds his daughter. Not surprisingly, if one aspect of the TAKEN 3  is bearable, it’s the relationship between Bryan and Kim (Maggie Grace). Here, the two join forces as he goes on the run from police and sets out to prove that someone else murdered Lenore.

As with the previous installments, it’s Neeson’s strength as an actor that carries the film. His soulful stare paired with his ability to execute intricate fight choreography is one of the prime reasons he remains one of the most intriguing action stars on-screen today.

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But this can’t detract from the most eye-rolling aspect of the film - its obvious hint at a followup. By the time this is introduced (in an unapologetically obvious manner), it feels more like an insult than a prospect.

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