While I wasn’t quite as taken with “Taken” as many others were, it was a decent enough action thriller with some memorable scenes (7/10). The second one was a rather disappointing and very uninspired “more of the same”-kinda sequel (4/10) – and unfortunately, the law of diminishing returns is once again confirmed by “Taken 3”, which was another big step down for the series.
One of the very few scenes that I found memorable – albeit solely for personal reasons – was the beginning, where that poor, innocent bookkeeper got killed. Working in a finance department myself, he had my sympathy; I would be really pissed if some guy would kill me because my boss stole some mob money. Not my fault! Anyway, I found that funny. There’s another great scene a little later on, when Mills calls his daughter to tell her that her mother has been killed (come on, that’s not a Spoiler; it was in the fucking trailer!). Very well acted by Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace, it was pretty much the only moment of the movie that worked for me. The rest, however, ranged from laughable to flat-out terrible.
It already starts with the basic premise, which is a bad rip-off of “The Fugitive”, with a couple of things that don’t really make sense. For example, I don’t really buy Bryan Mills as prime suspect, given how little time elapses between him leaving the Bagles shop and the call to the police (which occurs before he enters the house). One would think that there’s a way to prove when exactly Bryan Mills left the store; maybe with the time stamp on the receipt, or from the video camera. So excluding the theory that he bought the Bagels for his already murdered wife in order to avert suspicion (which would then raise the question why the disturbance was called in only a couple of minutes later), framing him for the death of his wife in that way doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Thus, I couldn’t really buy into the setup, which means that the movie lost me pretty early on.
It doesn’t get better, let alone more plausible, afterwards. One of the most ridiculous sequences (which, even though it’s still early in the game, is a major contender for my prize of this years dumbest scene) involves Bryan lulling his daughter into the bathroom of her university to have a quick talk. Earlier, it’s established that she’s a creature of habit, always buying the same yoghurt (or whatever) from the same store, taking it from the exact same spot. Thus, Bryan uses this to leave a note on her drink, telling her to drink it immediately. Turns out it was slightly poisoned, so that about an hour later, she would get sick and go to the bathroom (how he knew her curriculum, which building and/or room she would be in, and what’s the closest bathroom from there, is anyone’s guess). So, riddle me this: Why go to all that trouble instead of just writing “Bathroom, 10 a.m.” on the note? Unfortunately, the basic plot isn’t much better, overly relying on coincidence, and with a plot twist that at least I did see coming from a mile away.
Still, and as unfathomable as it may sound, the script isn’t the worst part of the movie, but rather Olivier Megaton’s absolutely terrible direction (with help from his film editors Audrey Simonaud & Nicolas Trembasiewicz). After a couple of recent movies with surprisingly clear action, I thought that the worst “post-action” (a term coined by the incomparable Vern) days would be over. Alas, it seems I cheered too soon. “Taken 3” is again shot in a style that makes the action completely incomprehensible. The worst offender here is the editing. There are just way too many cuts (during some sequences, I counted as much as 4-5 cuts in a single second), totally chopping up the action. However, there’s also your fair share of shaky cam and strong zooms, which further add to the incomprehensibility of the action scenes. Add to that the fact that this was trimmed down to a PG-13 – sometimes with hilarious results, like bullet wounds on a naked chest that don’t bleed – and what you get is one of the worst action movies to hit the big screen in a very long time.