Producer Luc Besson’s Taken franchise is back for its third and final instalment with the aptly stylised title of Tak3n. Although star Liam Neeson shows he is still capable of dominating the action genre, this series finale falls below the mediocre, with a guaranteed chance of forgetting the entire plot as soon as you exit the cinema.
Recently, it seems that any half decent movie with a good box office performance suddenly warrants a sequel, trilogy, or worse, a franchise. 2008’s Taken was admittedly, a great action film, whereas Taken 2, was not. Unfortunately this new release has not been able to pick itself up from its predictable storyline, cheesy one-liners, typical Russian bad guy stereotypes and fairly woeful minor-part casting.
Tak3n follows Bryan Mills (Neeson), once again taking on America’s most notorious antagonists, but this time out of vengeance for the death of his former wife Lenore (Famke Janssen), for which he has been framed. Unlike the previous Taken movies, there are no underlying links to previous storylines, which at the outset, is difficult to get used to, but as the movie progresses, this self-containment turns out to be a somewhat fresh breath of life for the franchise.
In fact, the first twenty minutes of the film are questionable as being considered a Taken movie at all; Mills appears to be moving on with his life, and onscreen scenes show him playing golf with his friends (flat caps and checked cardigans in hand), drinking miniature espressos, going for morning jogs and offering to get hot bagels and jam for Lenore.
Nevertheless, after the initial confusion, Tak3n does begin to show some promise and there are undeniably some very well-choreographed and exciting action sequences, particularly within the chase scenes where Mills pulls out all the tricks to escape the clutches of the law.
Whilst action, thugs and guns are in plentiful supply, the film fails to hit the mark in regards to suspense and tension, which made the first film a surprising standout from typical action affairs that saturate contemporary cinema. The plot is little more than Taken 2’s villain against hero formula, while the additional supporting roles that could have added to the film unfortunately were not used to their potential.
Even the acting prowess of Forest Whitaker as the lead Inspector Dotzler on the hunt for Mills, is unable to emerge as anything above a typical eccentric genius detective, constantly playing with either a chess piece or eating bagels. Meanwhile, Mills’ daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) still attempts to pull off a panicked student persona which is now thrice as tiresome as it was the first time, particularly because the actress is now over 30 years old.
All things said, Tak3n can still be enjoyed for its superficial pleasures, and once again, Neeson is brilliant in his role as Bryan Mills. A decent, fast-paced action film with plenty of Liam Neeson-ness, this final instalment in the Taken trilogy is worth a watch for devotees of the franchise or actor. Expecting anything more than a typical shoot-’em-up though, may result in bitter disappointment.