Liam Neeson is back for a third ‘Taken’ movie, despite flat out denying he would make any more after ‘Taken 2’. A combined box office of over half a billion for the previous films may have persuaded the actor otherwise (although he insists it’s this new film’s fresh direction), but can he impress with his ‘particular set of skills’ a third time round?
Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, former government operative now living a relatively quiet life in LA, trying to strengthen his relationship with his daughter (Maggie Grace). However, when his former wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), whom he was close to reconciling with, turns up dead at his apartment, Mills goes on the run to clear his name, find the killer, and protect his daughter.
So, a different take on the character, but one that unfortunately falls into cliché very quickly. While they have avoided doing the same thing all over again, the plot is very much a standard chase thriller. The car chases are impressive, and the fight scenes everything you would expect (although Mills waterboarding a suspect pushes the limits of what’s acceptable). Sadly, very broad characters and a deluge of, frankly, ludicrous twists take any potential tension away very quickly.
Neeson knows what the people want, and he gives it to them. His voice seems to get gradually deeper as the film goes on, and he does at least three variations on his famous ‘I will find you…’ speech. He still pulls off the stunts believably, although that’s often undermined by the script (which sees Mills operating from a base underground in the Los Angeles sewer). An interesting addition is Forest Whitaker, playing the detective on Mills’ tail. As ever, he possesses great screen presence, but like Neeson is bogged down by some of the stranger dialogue and character choices (such as Whitaker’s character constantly carrying around a chess piece while he investigates). Of the rest of the cast, Dougray Scott is melodramatic as Lenore’s current husband, while Sam Spuell (‘Snow White and The Huntsman’) is beyond ridiculous as a screaming, bullet spewing Russian gangster.
While about half the film the 2008 original was, ‘Taken 3’ has the big set pieces that will please casual viewers, but there’s no denying this is a sequel too far.
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