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Review: ‘Taken 3’ closes the series with a thud, not a bang (Includes first-hand account)

Seven years ago, Bryan Mills’ daughter was Taken while vacationing in Europe. He, with the help of his retired special forces buddies, tracked down the human traffickers, murdering them and freeing her. Something similar happened in 2012 involving his wife, comprising an equally action-packed sequel. Now in Taken 3, Bryan is the target and his family are the weapons being used to inflict maximum pain.

Kim (Maggie Grace) is all grown-up now with grown up problems. But nothing brings a father and daughter closer than the death of a loved one. Framed for the murder of his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), Bryan (Liam Neeson) goes on the run. Evading police and staying one step ahead of their investigation, he gathers evidence to identify the real killers and avenge her death.

Not everyone can begin an action career in their mid-50s, but Neeson has certainly pulled it off. Though at 62, it would seem the search is being given priority over the tussling. Of the three films in the series, this one is the least physically combative — though he does engage in a wild police chase that results in a 15-car pile-up on the freeway and multiple “squished” cars. With only two major fight sequences, there is much more running, avoiding and hiding being done, which almost defeats the purpose of going to a Bryan Mills flick.

It’s understandable and expected that this picture would not revolve around yet another kidnapping, but that doesn’t stop the movie from feeling like it was squeezed from an already dry fruit. Writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s half-hearted effort to alter the always similar narrative one more time comes up short to say the least. Bryan’s cell conversations with Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) convey the same badassery, although it seems misplaced since Dotzler is one of the good guys. The incorporation of a Russian enemy appears to be an unnecessary need to link to the previous villains when more local bad guys may have made more sense. Even the personalities of the Russians seem confused as they resolve to get drunk after a victory, but are then shown perusing the wine aisle of a liquor store and comparing vintages.

Fans of the previous two films will feel compelled to see Bryan Mills’ last venture, but nothing can then erase the disenchantment that’s sure to follow. It simply isn’t as much fun. There isn’t enough action and it’s just too straight-faced, even for Neeson. And finally, for some unknown reason, it’s also the longest film in the franchise. The media tour for this film, which included arm wrestling with Jimmy Fallon and a recorded phone message to Grace’s ex-boyfriend, has been far more entertaining than the movie itself.

Director: Olivier Megaton
Starring: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker and Maggie Grace

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Sarah Gopaul is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for film news, a member of the Online Film Critics Society and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved critic.

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