In 2008, Taken launched Liam Neeson’s late career ascent to the halls of action legend but now in 2015, the Taken series needs to step aside, as Taken 3 is an aggressively terrible “finale” to the franchise.
Picking up sometime after Taken 2 (the sequels couldn’t care less about previous events or character progression), Bryan Mills (Neeson) is still in LA, still not quite connecting with his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and still in a weird gray area with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen). When Lenore is murdered in his apartment, Bryan is the prime suspect and becomes a fugitive to try and clear his name while an LAPD detective (Forest Whitaker) is on his trail. The plot is needlessly complicated but also telegraphs who the ultimate villain is in such a heavy handed way that none of the twists and turns really matter and they just become annoyances until the inevitable final confrontation. The plot in general feels like it was never intended to be a Taken movie and it was half halfheartedly converted into one after the fact. If you look at pretty much any other action series, the events of the previous films at least have some impact on where the characters are in the sequels but the two Taken sequels have felt like a sitcom that reverts back to the status quo at the end of the episode. This family has gone through two of the most traumatic events you could possibly endure and they treat it like an awkward weekend trip.
The one factor that has made both Taken sequels, but especially this one, so terrible is director Olivier Megaton, who is a hack of the highest order. Everything is incompetent but especially the action sequences, which are edited and shot so poorly you have no sense of what the hell is happening. There’s some of the worst foot and car chases I have ever seen in this movie and the only saving graces are a fight in a liquor store that is shot somewhat normally and features the most Neeson ass kicking and the third act attack on a penthouse. To make matters even worse, there’s long stretches between the terrible action sequences that are just wheel spinning exposition or hilariously awful Forest Whitaker investigation scenes where he mistakes “weird quirk” for actually developing a character.
Liam Neeson is still a great action hero but pretty much every movie he’s been in since the first Taken is better than this. There’s no reason for either Taken sequel to exist other than money and I hope this is truly the end of the franchise or, at the very least, fire Olivier Megaton and get someone who actually knows how to direct if it has to continue.