Taken 3

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Taken 3

The guys behind the Taken series have never quite been able to figure out why the first film worked. You can’t really blame them; Luc Besson’s production company had been churning out fun but formulaic thrillers for years before Taken took off, and while it was easy enough to repeat the superficial elements – Liam Neeson as a psychotically protective dad using his murder skills to protect his daughter – the precise circumstances that made the first film such a success (here’s a clue: with the War on Terror still in full swing, a gruff American going to France to torture and kill swarthy foreigners threatening a blonde all-American teenage girl with sex slavery) were never likely to happen again. So Taken 3 has to operate in a new world, and surprise, it mostly succeeds.
The set-up is simple but logical: after being framed for the murder of his wife, Mills (Neeson) is on the run in L.A., trying to solve the mystery while avoiding the clutches of Forest Whitaker’s homicide detective. Well, for “trying to solve the mystery” read “getting involved in action sequences that are really badly edited” – but fortunately the Taken films have never really relied on straight-up action (they’re much more about the thrill of seeing Neeson take down bad guys with his bare hands) so the choppy car chases, while sub-par, are also inessential. It skimps in other ways too, but if you wanted lengthy explanations as to how Mills escapes certain death by explosions you’re watching the wrong film, and while the plot meanders when it should be getting to the point, that’s been a problem with this series since day one.
What does work is seeing Neeson pound bad guys who are shown as truly horrible people, plus the occasional moment of torture (only now he’s torturing a white American arms dealer) and his demented love for the daughter he refuses to see has grown up.
It’s not as good as the first Taken, but it’s better than the disappointing second: for all the talk of this being the last one, the door to Taken 4 is left wide open.