This time, it’s the audience who gets Taken

by Mark Burger

With Taken 3, or “Tak3n” as it’s being advertised, the third time is no charm. In fact, it’s harm. The latest installment of Liam Neeson’s spy franchise is awful enough to eradicate positive memories of the first two films. The tagline for this film is “It ends here,” and for once there’s truth in advertising.

In the first Taken (2008), Neeson’s ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills rescued his kidnapped daughter (Maggie Grace). In the 2012 follow-up, he rescued his kidnapped ex-wife (Famke Janssen). This time around, ex-wife Lenore is taken out (read: murdered), and Mills is accused of the crime.

In predictable Fugitive fashion, Mills tracks down the actual culprit(s) while being pursued by police and baddies alike, the former fronted by Forest Whitaker’s Inspector Dotzler, who tries to look baffled and fidgets with props in an attempt to inject some interest into a patently stock character.

Given Mills’ previous history, you would think the authorities might take him at his word of innocence, but if they had there wouldn’t be any movie.

As it stands, there isn’t much of one anyway.

Grace is back, playing the oldest college student in recent screen memory and merely around to become a pawn in the proceedings. Dougray Scott plays Lenore’s current husband, but he’s so shifty and sweaty it’s obvious he’s up to no good. Don Harvey, a familiar character face dating back to the ’80s, has his largest role in recent memory as a cop, which is perhaps the only positive thing that can be said of the film.

Neeson, who reportedly reaped a $20 million payday (of a reported $50 million budget), is ever the pro and does what’s required of him. Unfortunately, that’s not much more than running, jumping and shooting. Olivier Megaton‘s direction is choppy and tired, the script (by producer Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen) is haphazard and generic, and at 110 minutes Taken 3 is woefully overlong. It ends here “” and it can’t end quickly enough.