Be warned, sequel fanboys: This thing sucks! If you go by the hype, it all ends here. Hell, it should have ended with Taken 2. But nooooo. Here’s Taken 3 to cap a trilogy that gave Liam Neeson a new career lease as ex-CIA black-ops dude Bryan Mills, an action hero impervious to knives, bullets, grenades and death.
At 62, Neeson still has a glare that means badass. Nothing else in Taken 3 makes a damn lick of sense. In the first Taken, in 2008, Neeson’s killing machine massacred every goon in Paris to rescue his 17-year-old daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), from Albanian slave traders. In Taken 2, in 2012, pissed-off relatives of those Albanians captured Mills and his ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), during a vacation in Istanbul. Sheesh. Why doesn’t this Los Angeles family stay the fuck home? Silly question. With Mills retired to Enfamil, slippers and C.S.I. reruns, there’d be no way to raid the box office and trade on audience affection for the first movie which was — no lie — a guilty, gritty pleasure.
But Taken 3, people, goes past cashing into cynical exploitation. The new script, by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, is empty of ideas, fun and purpose. At least, Mills is home in LA. this time, trying to get things going again with Lenore, now unhappily married to a wealthy suit (Dougray Scott). The triangle ends in a murder with Mills getting framed for the crime. There’s a lot of running around while Neeson pretends he’s in a better movie, The Fugitive, and director Olivier Megaton edits frantically to compensate for the lack of anything really happening. Mills had skills once. No more. The only thing getting taken this time is the audience.