Friday, January 9, 2015
Third time is no charm for Bryan Mills' skills.
Taken 3 Review by Brandon WolfeSome franchises have a heck of a time justifying their continuing existence. While some films have premises conducive to repeat adventures, others are strictly one-shot-deals that simply aren’t built to spawn offspring. Die Hard was seemingly one of these films, but it somehow managed to buck the odds for at least a couple of sequels. More recently, someone got it into their head that The Hangover had trilogy potential when it very clearly only made sense as a single film. Now they’ve squeezed two sequels out of Taken, the 2009 sleeper hit where Liam Neeson used his now-infamous particular set of skills to take out the Eurotrash who absconded with his teenage daughter. Taken was a lean, satisfying, hugely effective action-thriller, but it was also a closed loop. When Neeson’s Bryan Mills got his daughter back, that was the logical conclusion of that story, until that story had to go and make a bunch of money. Thus there was Taken 2, a revenge thriller where the father of some of the goons Mills annihilated previously struck back at our hero’s family. It was rote and forgettable, but it also made a couple of bucks. Now we have a third Taken, even more superfluous than the last. Where Taken 2 at least tied its plot into Mills’ previous exploits, affording itself a modicum of a reason for being, Taken 3 places Mills into an all-new story. Specifically, The Fugitive, except scrubbed of every speck of personality and craftsmanship that The Fugitive displayed. When ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, who must have been on the set for 45 minutes, tops) is found murdered in Mills’ apartment, he realizes that he has been framed and uses those skills of his to evade the police as he sets out to conduct his own investigation into her death. Mills even has his own Gerard on his tail, in the form of lead detective Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker). Also in the mix is Lenore’s oily new husband (erstwhile Wolverine candidate Dougray Scott), and if you suspect that he might be somehow involved in his wife’s death, congratulations on having seen a movie before. Lucy, a hyperkinetic, completely bananas blast of revved-up nonsense, one wishes that some of that same exuberance had made its way into this inert threequel. Taken 3 has been billed as the final installment of the series, yet there isn’t any sense of closing-chapter finality to it. It feels like an installment, not a conclusion. Jettisoned into the icy box-office tundra of early January, the film’s earning potential will likely be lighter than that of its predecessors, perhaps mercifully sparing us further Takenings (incidentally, what exactly is it that’s being taken in this film? Lenore’s life? Our ability to stay awake?). To halt this series once and for all, Bryan Mills’ moneymaking skill needs to be taken out of that particular set of his. It makes him a nightmare to moviegoers like us. Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Brandon Wolfe at @BrandonTheWolfe.