Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Taken 3

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Please don't make a fourth one...please.

Taken 3 – 2 out of 5

Oh boy…another Taken film. I am boiling over with excitement.

Look at that face...she must be watching Taken 3.

Okay…so it seems the story of Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) isn’t over. In all reality, it should have been a one-and-done story—maybe a follow-up tale, at most—but three films feel like it is pushing the limit. Anyway, so it looks like Mills still has use for his particular set of skills as his ex-wife Lenny (Famke Janssen) is murdered in his apartment and he’s made to look like he committed the deed. Naturally, Mills won’t stand for that shit and he’s ready to beat up any and every generic bad guy that comes his way because whoever killed Lenny will, no doubt, go after his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) next. Which begs the question: Destiny clearly wants to see this family bite the dust and it’s almost like an unofficial Final Destination sequel with a less horror base and more of an action edge and Mills is just fighting to keep the manifestation of death from claiming Maggie…which, actually sounds like a great film. (Note to self: I have a script to write when I’m done with this.)

"I'm here to confiscate all your copies of Battleship."

I'm sure this will end safely.
To recap, I’m a fan of the first film—I really enjoyed its badassery and how it cemented the fact that I know think Liam Neeson is the toughest guy to exist and has a more legit badass card than that joke of a looney Chuck Norris (wanna hear a Chuck Norris joke? It’s his career. That’s the biggest Chuck Norris joke of them all). Sadly, I’m starting to think that the fondness I have of the first film is starting to be tainted by these lackluster and completely unnecessary sequels. When I saw the second film in the theater, it took much of the running length to convince myself that the film was horrible. I kept saying to myself, "It’s going to get better, right? It has to get better." But it never got better. I thought 2 was as low as the film would go but this one sets a new standard for the franchise.

You can actually sense the Russian-ness of this bad guy in the film.

I’ll be honest; I was actually excited for this one. Forgoing someone being taken in the story, seeing the film deal with Mills being falsely accused of killing his wife felt like a nice change of pace. Sadly, the final product felt lifeless, generic, and pretty pointless. The film had prime real estate that could have changed the neighborhood and raised property value but, instead, they wasted it and made a film equivalent of a parking lot—okay, even I have to say I made a really dumb metaphor there. But the point remains that the film wasted an opportunity and settled for mediocrity.

Neeson, seen here trying to escape the set.

Finally, this movie gives the fans what they wanted: 
Bryan Mills fighting a dude in his underwear.
Aside from having a couple of moments where there are some decent fist-fights and the fact that Liam Neeson still comes off as a convincing badass, the movie spends its time wallowing in cliché and a formulaic plot that unfolds exactly as you predict it to—up to and including the obvious reveal of who the real culprit behind Lenny’s death was (seriously, it was painfully obvious). The film tries to up the ante a bit with a few more explosions and a wild scene involving an overturned semi-trailer on the highway but, even then, it’s clearly just a slapped-on coat of paint on something that you can clearly smell is a turd.

Smelly turd...on fire.

What’s really amazing about this film is how, after two other films, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, and Liam Neeson still don’t have believable chemistry as a family. While scenes with Grace and Neeson haven’t been too bad in the franchise, I’ve always found any scene with Janssen and Neeson to be excruciatingly bad and to look like the two actors are incapable of hiding a possible hatred they share for each other. Granted, Janssen dies in the film and doesn’t have a considerable amount of screen time but the limited scenes she has with Neeson are really hard to sit through. Both come off less like two people who were once married and still carry a flame for the other and are, overall, living cordially as friends and more like both actors just want to get the scene over so they can go to their separate trailers…almost like they once dated in real life and it ended badly and now they hope the other gets all the STDs and dies painfully. There’s just nothing palpable about their relationship and it makes their short scenes and their relationship in the story feel wooden and hollow.

The smiles of two people who look like they are biting back their hostilities.

Cigar Crocodile was the best character.
The biggest offense this film commits and the biggest reason I couldn’t take this film seriously was the gigantic plot-hole of Mills having an airtight alibi for why he wasn’t Lenny’s killer. This seems nitpicky but all of Mills’ actions feel unnecessary due to the reality he would have been ruled out as a suspect with a single phone call and the police visiting the populated area that Mills was prior to the discovery of his murdered ex-wife. Mills had absolutely no reason to fight the cops and flee to find the real killer and was overreacting in a way that made it hard for me to cheer for him—even in an action film atmosphere. So while this may come off a petty complaint, it is a reflection of the poorly written story. It could have been so much easier to make it possible for Mills to have a legit reason to fight off the cops who believe he killed Lenny and it probably could have made the generic film and its generic and predictable reveal of who the real bad guy is a little easier but, instead, the film’s plot undoes itself because the writers foolishly gave Mills an airtight alibi that, ultimately, made a majority of his decisions pointless and completely unnecessary.

"There there...we all signed on for this.  We'll make it."

Even with bad scripts, Whitaker gives his all.  The man's
a damn hero.
The film wasn’t all fails for me, however. There’s a decent fight scene in a liquor store, Liam still proves that he is a badass, and Forest Whitaker (who plays the investigating detective trying to figure out what happened and is hunting Mills) gives a great performance (but that’s a given with him). However, aside from this, Taken 3 was just a forgettable movie and another addition to a franchise that doesn’t come close to landing anywhere near the first film. While it was never boring and never dragged, the film just suffers from a really bad script that comes off without a single glimmer of originality. In a pinch, its action will satisfy if you are hard up for an action film but, besides that, the film just comes off overwhelmingly "meh." Besides, if you are that hard up for action, just watch John Wick because that movie never gets boring.

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