Movie Review: Taken 3 (2014)

D+
Action | Thriller, 109 minutes
Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace
"It Ends Here!" is the tagline. Well, I think that is a great idea.

This is Olivier Megaton's second Taken installment. He brought us Taken 2, and whereas the styling feels the same, this movie takes a noticeable step back in terms of both quality and ambition. 

This time, ex-government agent "Bryan Mills" (Liam Neeson) is framed for a murder he did not commit. He has a sharp detective, "Dotzler" (Forest Whitacre) coming after him. His daughter "Kim" (Maggie Grace) is now mature and out on her own. Her mother "Lenore" (Famke Janssen) is back before us, but not for long. 

It's time to read the handwriting on the wall and ditch this series, the chief reasons being that: 1) There is nowhere else for the plot to go. And 2) The odds of all of this trauma falling on one single family is just not likely. 

When Mills goes about to investigate why he was framed, he comes across "Stuart" (Dougray Scott) and a bunch of over-the-top Russian mobsters whose tortured accents are only part of the problem. And then there are Dotzler's stooge cops who are every bit as worthless and comically incompetent as you would imagine them to be (and more). 

The head boss enemy is none other than "Malankov" (Sam Spruell). Toward the movie's conclusion, we are treated to a penthouse fight between Mills and Malankov, with Malankov in his whitey-tighties. This awful showdown totally gets the "you've-got-to-be-fucking-kidding-me" award in an action movie in a way that I think I've never seen before. 

The stakes are high, but in a forced-feeling, trumped-up sort of way, as the pleasantly predictable plot unfolds before us--only this time, with slower buildup to the action, less of a pay-off from the emotional components of the story, and bad performances to boot. And yet this disappointing experience came from a combination of all of these flaws put together instead of one particular thing. 

No one, including Neeson, seems very committed to their role this time around. The wooden, emotionless performances and poorly written exchanges between characters get in the way of our viewing, but we could forgive those if they were the only things to contend with. And yet, because of what all of the Taken series does for audiences, the movie still feels strangely watchable. I was never bored to tears, but certainly never impressed, either. But this one has a "Fans Beware!" warning sticker on it that needs to be read by all.  

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