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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 23, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 04
Takes more than luck to enjoy Taken 3
Arts & Entertainment
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Takes more than luck to enjoy Taken 3

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

TAKEN 3 Now playing

In many ways the most interesting aspect of Taken 3 is how little effort returning writers Luc Besson (who also produces) and Robert Mark Kamen spend attempting to connect the events of this sequel to those that transpired during the first two adventures of former U.S. government agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). In other words, they don't try, the rescuing of his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and, a few years later, his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) nothing more than background noise that's talked about and then dismissed entirely in what feels like nothing more than a few short sentences.

Otherwise there's nothing that happens we haven't seen before, Mills forced to use his 'particular set of skills' on the homefront after he's framed for a shocking, emotionally traumatizing murder whose aftermath once again puts Kim's life in danger. Running around the streets of Los Angeles he encounters a variety of sordid characters, not the least of which are grimy members of the Russian mob as well as Lenore's corporate financier and current husband Stuart (Dougray Scott). He also is forced to keep local Los Angeles authorities at arm's length, playing cat and mouse with the driven detective in charge of the investigation, chess aficionado Lt. Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker).

By and large, the film plays out like a moderately above-average episode of '24,' Mills going from here to there, doling out justice and using everything he's got to uncover why he's been framed and to save his daughter's life. Besson, Kamen and director Olivier Megaton ever-so-slightly redeem themselves for the unintentionally hysterical calamity that was Taken 2, running a tighter, far more self-assured and confident ship this time around. The movie has an old school, 1980s Canon Films vibe that recalls the likes of Code of Silence or Raw Deal, and as such it's far more watchable than it arguably has any right to be.

None of which makes it good. The sequel is so by-the-numbers, so resolutely rudimentary, it takes about five seconds to ascertain who set Mills up and why, making the entire search for the truth borderline pointless. On top of that, as terrible as the last film was, the humor in watching Kim triangulate her parents' location via hand grenade - which wasn't even the worst aspect of that disaster - was undeniable, and there's little that caught my interest with near as much giddily absurd audaciousness as stuff like that did.

Actually, the biggest problem is that nothing feels the least bit cinematic. This third entry in the series truly is nothing more than your average episode of Cable crime television, and I can't help but think that in some way everyone returning this go-around is doing so for the paycheck and for no other reason. It more or less looks great, and by goodness does it all sound terrific, and other than some creative editing to conceal Neeson's stunt double (who probably spent more time on set than the actor did), technically there aren't a whole lot of structural missteps. But why one would pay good money to see this in a theater when they'll get more bang for their buck watching it at home is beyond me, Taken 3 an instantly forgettable straightforward money grab and little, if anything, else.

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