Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills, a CIA agent using his experience to solve a murder conspiracy. With Detective Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) on his tail, Bryan must search Los Angeles to find out who framed him for his ex-wife’s murder. “Taken 3” is the end of the “Taken” trilogy, and acts more like an action thriller rather than a revenge fantasy.
The film opens to an abduction of an accountant, where a Russian gangster, Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell), is collecting a debt. Then, we get a scenic view of Los Angeles at night with opening credits, representing the relative calm of Bryan’s life since the first two films. He has been surprising his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) early for her birthday, playing golf with his CIA colleagues and rekindling a romance with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). These scenes provide a basic parallel for the film: an interspersing of action and violence amongst scenes of quiet, composed tension.
Things quickly spiral out of control when Lenore is found dead in Bryan’s apartment, framing him as the cops arrive seconds after his own discovery of the grisly murder. Knowing how bad the scene looks, Bryan flees and sends the LAPD after him as he scrambles through LA. The only thing that matters now is finding out who murdered Lenore and protecting his daughter.
Detective Dotzler is brought onto the scene to track him down (a movie cop who is actually smart and has common sense) and the chase begins. Involving everything from gunfights, fistfights, car chases, explosions, a nice plot twist, a showdown between Mills and Malankov, excellent cinematography and choreography of said scenes and a soundtrack that mixes all these elements together, “Taken 3” delivers a constant joyride of the franchise’s signature action and quick delivery.
“Taken 3” also combines a flow of humor into the script, leading Neeson to deliver funny quips during fights and interrogations and possibly cringe-inducing references to the his other onscreen adventures as Mills.
In addition, there is a hilarious “Final Destination”-like cargo container, Detective Dotzler’s love of bagels and a “taxi” ride from Wallace Langham of CSI fame.
Plus, the film continues the trend of Mills leaving a path of destruction in every city he visits.
The film is not perfect, as there are some pitfalls. “Taken 3” doesn’t capture the dark charm of the first film, where Bryan Mills was a ruthless, retired CIA agent that killed or maimed anyone in his way.
Not so much anymore. The plot is also a little formulaic, with Mills searching here and there while killing some bad guys along the way. In addition, the PG-13 violence is a little lacking; people are shot, but there is no blood. I wonder how much would change if the film’s rating was R.
Overall, “Taken 3” is a fun action film that has a simple plot, and sets out to create an entertaining experience. You get exactly what you expect, nothing more, nothing less.
RECOMMENDED: Fans of the franchise will enjoy the film and “Taken 3” serves up a nice action flick that doesn’t surpass its predecessors but entertains nonetheless.