Blu-Ray Review by Dominic Messier, Founder, Editor and Owner of a Particular Set of Skills
Listen: I’m all about the sequels. By that of course, I mean the worthwhile ones, the type that actually add to the original, in that they push the story forward without seeming gratuitous or exploitative.
Think The Godfather II, Aliens, The Empire Strikes Back, and Captain America The Winter Soldier, to name a few. There are some times, however, when a studio opts to bring back the star of a successful film in the hope that name recognition and franchise potential alone helps earn big bucks at the box office, to hell with quality or relevance.
Taken 3 is one such example, an effective enough action piece, but one that shows signs of wear and tear, redundancy and age.
In this latest, mostly predictable installment, Liam Neeson returns as former CIA operative Bryan Mills, the dangerous “man with a particular set of skills” who made life a living hell for those who wished to harm his daughter and ex-wife in the previous two movies.
This time around, Mills is on the run when he gets framed for murder after finding ex-love Lenore (Famke Janssen) dead in his apartment, the result of some mysterious payback that may originate from some old enemies.
As Mills seeks to protect his daughter from the same fate while running all over Los Angeles to clear his name and find his wife’s true killers, the old secret intelligence veteran will have to rely on all of his knowledge and skills to stay one step ahead of the authorities, a determined detective (Forest Whittaker) and Lenore’s husband (Dougray Scott), a businessman who may have gotten himself into hot water with some shady business people.
Rest assured, however, that Mills is on the job, and he will look for the bad guys…and he will find them….and he will kill them…..again.
What is there left to say? The formula for this franchise is as predictable as they make ’em, like expecting a new Fast and Furious sequel and wondering whether there’ll be fast car chases and scantily clad bikini girls.
Granted, it’s still fun to watch the towering Neeson walking and scowling while taking names and kicking some asses for another hour and a half, but seriously, how long before we head out to the movies to watch Just Take Them Already or Miss Taken?
(Paging Maggie Grace: Consider that last title, could be a decent spinoff…)
Taken 3 has all the elements of the various iterations of The Wrong Man and The Fugitive we’ve all seen over the years, the type of script where an honest man gets wrongly accused and must defy the law in order to find the real culprit.
Thankfully, the bad guys aren’t so focused on kidnapping the Mills women this time around (well, almost), so we get to see the hero call on his old agency buddies to assist in a little search and rescue, providing what little variety there is in this, hopefully the last installment.
Janssen and Grace are blessedly rare in this film, popping in for obligatory scenes of exposition, or in this particular instance, the aforementioned pivotal murder. Not to impugn the actresses’ work, but we’re really hoping to see Neeson in action, and that’s exactly what we get.
The acting isn’t much to write home about, with timely chase scenes and hand-to-hand fisticuffs galore. Even Forest Whittaker, as the L.A. detective slowly piecing together Mills’ actions, doesn’t seem that much into it, operating with the motivation and drive of a passerby.
The Blu-Ray set comes with an unrated version of the film that adds roughly seven minutes to the story, has your usual trailers and teaser material and a few bonus features that show imagination and initiative.
One particular feature, called “Sam’s Bunker, AKA The Rabbit Hole”, allows you to visit an animated version of the secret lair seen in the film, where Mills and his fellow CIA veteran cronies operate from to help him clear his name and protect his daughter. A cool feature, albeit a little silly, but a refreshing alternative to the usual stuff.
Take what you will from Taken 3. I found it to be a very bland episode of well-worn material, a last ditch attempt to milk a formerly profusive cash cow that has shown it is clearly time to be put out to pasture. For all of our sakes.
2 out of 5
Dominic Messier is a media veteran who’s written and discussed movies for almost 20 years, from entertainment radio shows to newspaper columns to websites. Follow him on Twitter via @dommessier or join the Pop Culture Landscape with Dominic Messier page on Facebook.