Taken 3

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Former covert operative Bryan Mills visits his daughter, Kim, who has just discovered she’s pregnant, at her L.A. apartment to deliver an early birthday gift. After an awkward visit, he invites his ex-wife, Lenore, to dinner. Although she refused the invitation, she shows up at his apartment revealing her distress over marital problems with her current husband, Stuart, and indicates her desire to be with Bryan, who feels the same way, but says they need to refrain until her marriage is resolved. Later, Stuart visits Bryan and asks him to stay away from Lenore as they attempt to reconcile. Bryan reluctantly agrees.

The following day, Bryan receives a text from Lenore asking to meet him for breakfast and bagels. Bryan agrees, returns from the bagel store to his apartment, and discovers her lifeless body in his bedroom. LAPD units immediately appear, based on an anonymous 911 call, and try to arrest Bryan, who resists and eventually escapes through a large garage floor drain that leads into the public drainage system. Meanwhile, LAPD Inspector Frank Dotzler quickly becomes familiar with Bryan’s background and organizes a citywide manhunt.

Bryan retreats to a prepared safe-house that is equipped with weapons and surveillance electronics. He retraces Lenore’s travels to a remote gas station convenience store and finds surveillance footage of her abduction into a van by unidentified men with unique hand tattoos. LAPD detectives arrive at the gas station and arrest him. While in-transit, Bryan frees himself, commandeers and hijacks the police cruiser, escapes, and downloads phone records from LAPD’s investigation database onto a thumb drive.

He contacts Kim at Lenore’s funeral via his former covert co-workers and friends instructing her to maintain her “very predictable schedule”. She purchases her daily yogurt drink which is marked “Drink Me Now”. She ends up feeling nauseated and runs to the restroom where Bryan is waiting and surprises her (he had put a drug in the drink, and now gave her an antidote). Bryan removes a surveillance bug that, unknown to her, was planted by Dotzler. He tells her that he is looking for the real murderer and that she should keep safe. She tells her father of her pregnancy and that Stuart is acting scared and has hired bodyguards which he has never done before.

Bryan tails Stuart’s car but is ambushed and pursued by another SUV, and his car is pushed over the edge of a cliff. He survives the crash, hijacks a car, follows the attackers to a roadside liquor store and kills them. Bryan then abducts and interrogates Stuart, who confesses that his failure to repay a debt to a former business partner and ex-Spetsnaz operative named Oleg Malankov was the reason Lenore was killed and that he exposed Bryan’s identity to Malankov out of jealousy.

With assistance from his old teammates and a nervous Stuart, Bryan gains entry to Malankov’s heavily secured penthouse. After killing the guards, a furious gun battle, and brutal fight, a mortally wounded Malankov reveals that Stuart tricked them both. Stuart planned Lenore’s murder and framed Bryan as part of a business deal to collect on a $12M insurance policy. When Malankov failed to kill Bryan, Stuart used Bryan to kill Malankov and remove all threats. Meanwhile, Stuart shoots Bryan’s ally, Sam, and abducts Kim, intending to flee with the money. Under police pursuit, Bryan arrives at the airport in Malankov’s Porsche as Stuart’s plane is taxiing toward takeoff. After destroying the landing gear; preventing the plane from taking off, Bryan overpowers Stuart and prepares to kill him but pauses at Kim’s pleas. He informs Stuart to expect final punishment if he escapes justice or completes a reduced prison sentence. Dotzler and the LAPD arrive to arrest Stuart.

Afterwards, Kim and her boyfriend tell Bryan if their unborn baby is a girl, they choose to name her “Lenore”. Bryan approves and says, “She’d like that very much”.

REVIEW:

Why must people continue to mess with Liam Neeson and his family? Did they learn nothing from the first Taken? Have they forgotten this man was a Jedi Knight and trained Batman? Come on people! Wise up and leave the guy alone! Then again, maybe in this third time around, Neeson has lost a step. Can Taken 3 be the one where we see him defeated?

What is this about?

Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

What did I like?

Is that action?!? So many action films today say they are action packed, but turn out to be nothing more than a couple of gun shots, an explosion or two, and that’s it. They call that action. This film knows better, though. We get exciting shootouts that would put a western to shame, explosions that fit in the story, rather than just happening out of nowhere, and high-speed car chases, just to name a few of the things that happen in this film. This alone is enough to keep me in my seat for the duration of the film!

One step ahead. I am never going to be a fan of the law enforcement agency tracking down an alleged criminal in movies. Mostly because 9 times out of 10, they are wrong! This is no exception, but I give these guy credit for doing their homework and knowing that Neeson’s character is a highly trained “ghost”, as they call him. The only way to catch/beat him is to think like him and attempt to get one step ahead.

Nothing without a little support. In all three film, this one especially, I feel that it has been overlooked that Neeson’s friends play a huge part in helping him out. They provide him with intelligence, currency, technology, etc. Imagine how much more difficult his jobs in these films would have been without them.

What didn’t I like?

Chase him, Forest, chase him! Some have hailed Forest Whitaker as one of our generation’s greatest actors. I’m not quite sure I would go that far, but the guy does have some major chops on him. So, why is it that he is relegated to barking out orders and snapping a rubber band on his wrist throughout this picture, rather than going toe to toe with Neeson? I don’t get it? Was he cast for his name? Perhaps they just wanted to bring his character from American Dad into live action. That actually might have been a better option!

Let’s do the twist! There is a twist at the end of this that may or may not surprise the audience. I wasn’t fooled at all. That is the problem. If there is to be a twist, then it needs to be effective and I’m afraid this wasn’t. Anyone could see it coming from a mile away. Hell, now that I think about it, there were probably cues in the early part of the film that I just wasn’t paying attention to. Now, does the twist work with the rest of the film? Eh…I can’t say that it was necessary, but given everything else that was going on, I see why they did it.

Pacing. The pacing in the film is next to perfect. They set up the plot, go into an action scene, a little exposition, more action, repeat as much as necessary, and then we get to the last 30 minutes or so. *SIGH* The film falls apart at this marker because it keeps jumping around between the Russians, Neeson and company, and Whitaker. Making matters worse, there is no explanation for where the Russians suddenly came from. We see them in the opening scene, and then not again until this last act. Where have they been the rest of the film?!? Honestly, the climax of the picture should have been just as exciting as the rest, but instead it felt as if they were nearly done with the film, but realized money was drying up so it got rushed.

Taken 3 brings this franchise to a merciful end. What started out with such promise in the first film, slowly got watered down with each successive picture. This one has call backs to the first film, which are nice, but by this point I think we are all ready to move on to something new. I mean, did anyone really ask for this? It is obvious watching Neeson that he didn’t want to make this. There are some bright spots to this film, don’t get me wrong. I do not want to sound like I hated it, but I know it could have been so much better. Do I recommend it? No, this goes down in the long line of trilogy films that petered out when in came to part 3.

3 out of 5 stars

 

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