While it seemed like a one shot deal at the time, “Taken” introduced the concept of Liam Neeson as an unstoppable, action bad ass super star. The film was simple enough: a man with a “particular set of skills” sets out on a blood filled rampage to return his kidnapped daughter from the scum of the Earth. Then his family was kidnapped…again in “Taken 2” and while that one lacked the luster the first one packed so effectively, it gained enough interest and finances to (for the time being) conclude the story of Brian Mills and his ass kicking antics with “Taken 3.” Does Neeson recapture the explosive taste of the first one, or is it a bitter taste reminiscent of its sour filled sequel? Well were about to find out.
Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) is finally enjoying retirement from his dangerous line of work to maintain an increasingly positive relationship with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and his estranged ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). However, Brian discovers Lenore’s body while visiting her and is accused of killing her by the police and the FBI. Mills escapes captivity, desperate to elude the manhunt lead by Agent Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) and discover the true identity of his wife’s killer and deliver to them his unique brand of “justice.” Like everyone else, I never thought Neeson could turn this Brian Mills character into the next John McClane after seeing the first “Taken” movie. I was worried each film was just going to have more and more people kidnapped; basically turning the aspect of being kidnapped into a running gag of sorts.
While still nowhere near on par with the power of the first film, “Taken 3” serves as another sufficient action vehicle for Neeson and focuses more on his character’s “skills” than continually rescuing someone. In a way, the action here is toned down to make room for a more mystery-esque plot. Similar to Neeson’s last film “A walk among the tombstones” or Harrison Ford’s “The Fugitive”, the action takes a slight back seat to the plot of the film. Though it took a while to get its stride going, the story slowly became more interesting and complicated; far more than I expected though don’t mistake that as me saying this is “Inception” level plot twists here.
This is a straight up action film; even with the little added intrigue of a more complicated plot, one should not treat or expect this movie as anything but a typical action flick (something I never thought Neeson would be known for). However, like all his roles prior; Neeson never kets his performance suffer or sag simply because the focus is ass kicking and blowing up cars. Neeson gives his character a gritty edge that never falters; even if the film itself in question is faulty. He always gives 110% and this is no exception, you can really feel his intensity and gravitas as he barrels through thugs, cops and obstacles with the same grizzly strength Neeson has recently become known for.
With the exception of Whitaker, everyone else in the film doesn’t really stick around long enough to warrant any worthy performance discussions. These movies have always been about Neeson and its Neeson alone that reminds us why he is the star of the show. If there is one unavoidable flaw in “Taken 3” it’s sadly with the very thing this franchise has been known for: action. The camerawork with the action scenes is atrocious, it’s so jittery and shaky that you feel like you’re on a tilt-a-whirl and it’s putting a strain on both your eyes and your head. Overall, “Taken 3” is no grand finale to a noteworthy trilogy but it is still an adequate action thrill ride. The camera angles make you want to vomit with confusion and the story is still more of the same from the past 2 films. But Neeson always makes it worth it, the story gets creative at times and I didn’t leave the theater unsatisfied so I’d call that a win.