Taken 3 ‘works’ but ‘headache inducing’

By Rafael Abreu

Liam Neeson is, if nothing else, a good actor who can deliver good performances. He’s acted in both action films and dramas, and has recently become somewhat of a big action star thanks to a variety of films, most notably “Taken”. The first “Taken” is an enjoyable enough film with a simple enough premise; it has good action sequences, but isn’t anything too special. The sequel, “Taken 2”, at least for me, was about as okay as the first, with a story that actually connected to the first; good action, good pacing, but again, nothing special.

Then comes “Taken 3” (or should I say, “Tak3n”), another sequel no one asked for, and, according to the film’s tagline, should be the final film in the “Taken” series. To be completely honest, I wouldn’t care if there actually was a fourth “Taken”, but that’s a topic for another article. “Taken 3” has Neeson returning to the role of Bryan Mills, just doing his best to live comfortably in Los Angeles, making sure his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is doing well, and so forth. Then bad things start to happen, and before you know it, Bryan is running away from the LAPD and an occasional group of mobster bad guys.

Now, to be fair, “Taken 3” has a better plot than the first two; a variety of things important to the plot happen, multiple characters are actually utilized, and there’s even some twists. Bryan’s buddies actually help out this time, and Forest Whitaker does a good job as a police inspector. So, as far as characters and an actual story go, I think “Taken 3” does a better job than the first, and especially the second.

Then I start to wish that “Taken” had stayed a standalone movie, because then I wouldn’t have to talk about how the third film in the series has the worst action sequences. It’s too tragic: a better story, more enjoyable events, but the action, the most important part of an action movie, ends up being the worst part of the whole thing. How does that happen? Also, how does an action movie not have that much action, at least compared to the first two? What makes this really problematic for me is that, other than the action sequences, the rest of the film isn’t all that bad. The more “thriller” moments of Bryan sneaking around or doing something else while being chased by the cops are good, and even some of the more drama-focused scenes are done well. But why, Oliver Megaton, why do you insist on shaky cam, jittery camerawork, and so many close-ups? Why make me disoriented during an LA car chase? Why bore me during a gun fight? Why do so few people actually get shot in this movie, let alone attacked? And why are there so many cuts, even during a quiet drama scene? Do you think your audience is so stupid and with such short attention spans?

In the less chaotic moments, “Taken 3” works, but aside from that, it just comes off as headache inducing. This would have been my favorite of the three, if it weren’t for the horrible action scenes. The gun fights (what few there are) come off as embarrassing, making it seem like everyone is shooting blanks and pretending to fall over at some point. I will give “Taken 3” props for its story and acting, which kept me interested and somewhat invested in what was going on. But as far as action is concerned, I couldn’t be more disappointed. Watch at your own risk.

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