The Movie Waffler New Release Review - <i>Taken 3</i> | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Taken 3

Framed for his ex-wife's murder, Brian Mills must find those responsible and prove his innocence.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Olivier Megaton

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott, Leland Orser, Andrew Howard

2015 is set to be the biggest ever year for movies. At least so goes the hyperbole. Whatever else, 2015 is in danger of being Hollywood's most unoriginal year yet, given the vast amount of sequels, remakes and adaptations due to hit our screens over the coming 12 months. The first sequel to arrive is Taken 3, continuing the recent tradition of kicking off the year with a movie in which Liam Neeson beats the living daylights out of dirty foreigners. Or wolves. Or dirty foreign wolves.
Neeson is back once again as Brian Mills, who must be the most meekly named action hero ever to grace the screen. This time nobody actually gets "taken". Instead, his ex-wife (Janssen) is murdered in a manner that leads the police to believe Mills is responsible. Mills goes on the run, or "down the rabbit hole" as he calls it, outfitting himself with a shiny new leather jacket and an array of guns from a secret underground lair. It's a bunch of pesky Russkies, led by a villain who bears an uncanny resemblance to Bez from The Happy Mondays, who are behind his wife's killing, but suspicion falls on her current husband, a scumbag businessman (is there any other kind in these movies?) with the brilliant moniker of Stuart St John (Scott). We also get the great Welsh character actor Andrew Howard, once again cast as an Eastern European heavy.
When your name is Olivier Megaton, you've got a lot to live up to as an action director, but the Frenchman has instead established himself as a Gallic McG. Taken 3's action set-pieces are edited to death, relying on the shakey-cam aesthetic that's now the de rigeur fallback for the unimaginative filmmaker. It doesn't help that the movie's leading man is 62 and can't perform his own stunts, making such quick cuts and blurry camerawork a necessity as much as aesthetic choice. The Raid this ain't.
The first Taken worked because it was a bunch of French filmmakers having fun with the xenophobia inherent in so much American action cinema. In that movie, and its awful first sequel, Neeson was a nasty old man running riot through Europe fists first on a relentless quest to save his daughter from dodgy accented baddies. It was a no holds barred violent rampage, but this latest installment dials back the mayhem for a family friendly rating. Mills has chilled out a lot since his European tour and even refuses to kill some of his adversaries when given the chance. What would Chuck Bronson think?