‘Taken 3’ Review: A Very Particular Pile of Crap

'Taken 3'

Movie Rating:


When ‘Taken’ debuted and a grizzled Liam Neeson mass-murdered his way into all of our hearts, there was undeniably something special about that particular slice of Eurotrash. Now six years have gone by, Neeson’s action roles are ubiquitous, and a movie as lazily ill-conceived as ‘Taken 3’ is about as welcome as a kick to the nuts from a retired government operative. ‘Taken 2’ may have been a bad movie, but at least it was insane enough in its awfulness to offer audiences a little fun. ‘Taken 3’, on the other hand, isn’t just bad. It’s incompetent.

The threequel kicks off with some hysterically cornball sequences involving Liam Neeson gifting a giant stuffed panda to his daughter (Maggie Grace) and making doe eyes with his recently remarried ex-wife (Famke Janssen). It’s horrible, but the kind of horrible that will get laughs out of fans of the series since they know this greeting card swill is there purely to contrast with the endless stream of growling and ass-kickery to come shortly. Unfortunately, those fleeting moments of camp end up being some of the most entertaining parts of the entire movie. As soon as the plot is set into motion, it’s clear that screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have absolutely no idea how to keep this franchise alive. Even worse, spectacularly surnamed director Olivier Megaton seems to have forgotten how to stage a coherent action scene.

Despite what the title suggests, no one gets taken this time. (Except perhaps the audience. Zing! Sorry.) Instead, Besson and Kamen must have seen a copy of ‘The Fugitive’ on the wall that they were banging their heads against while writing and said, “Screw it, we’ll just do that.” So, after a stop at the bagel store, Bryan Mills (Neeson) arrives at his ex-wife’s house to find her dead. Then the cops burst in. I think there’s a chase at this point, but the mixture of nauseating shaky-cam and continuity-free editing made it hard to tell what’s going on.

After that, Mills is a man on the run. The cop assigned to the case is played by Forest Whitaker, so obviously that means he’s a good guy unlikely to assume that the protagonist of two successful movies could possibly be wrong. (Mills killed at least 30% of the evil people in Europe by my count). Whitaker’s character figures out that Mills is innocent because of the bagels and because Besson and Kamen just really don’t care about anything this time. Then a bunch of other stuff happens. Whatever.

It’s hard to even work up the energy to say anything about ‘Taken 3’, simply because everyone involved in the movie was clearly operating on autopilot. The script is possibly the weakest excuse for a movie to ever be farted out of Besson’s brain, and considering the lows between his highs, that’s really saying something. There’s nothing approaching drama, tension or characterization here. Even the ludicrous logic gaps aren’t silly enough to be accidentally funny.

Then, whenever enough strained narrative pieces fall into place for an action scene, Megaton seems to go out of his way to ensure that the sequence is too sloppy to comprehend. The evocative dark and seedy streets of Europe at night have been replaced by dull daytime shoots in suburban Los Angeles to ensure that everyone on the crew got home in time for dinner. Even Neeson seems to have put less than no effort into his performance. The editors constantly have to awkwardly cut around his refusal to run, and he doesn’t even bother to hide his Irish accent much of the time. This movie is embarrassing.

Look, ‘Taken 3’ was never exactly going to be a masterpiece, but it could have at least been adequate. All the filmmakers needed to do was set Neeson loose on the streets of Europe with some sex traffickers to beat up. That’s not hard. Everyone involved managed to serve up that bare minimum of effort for a sequel once before. Not so this time. This threequel is a paycheck for everyone involved, and clearly the first production meeting consisted of two sentences: “Who cares what it is? Let’s just make something.”

The filmmakers even neutered the hard-R style that’s been a selling point of the series from the beginning to a PG-13. It’s an insult to audiences for a team of filmmakers who have proven that they know what they’re doing to deliver such a pitiful excuse for a movie. ‘Taken 3’ deserves to bomb, and I hope it does. This sequel is a scam cruising by purely on the franchise name. Don’t be fooled. Run.


  1. CP

    “The filmmakers even neutered the hard-R style that’s been a selling point of the series from the beginning to a PG-13”

    Taken – PG13 theatrical release with an unrated version blu-ray
    Taken 2 – PG13 theatrical release with an unrated version blu-ray

    Do some homework. I get that you reviewers perhaps don’t want to see EVERYTHING released, but c’mon. But kudos on being witty.

    • Phil Brown

      Whoops. I forgot that Taken 2 was a straight PG 13. My bad. Believe it or not, I really did want to see Taken 3. It just stunk.

      • Timcharger

        According to CP, you didn’t just forget Taken 2 was PG-13. You were completely wrong about your point “from the beginning”.

        Why admit a half-wrong, when fully wrong?

        Let’s not let facts get in the way of witty zingers.
        (I did enjoy your zingers.)

  2. Figured it would be mediocre given the drop of Taken 2 from Taken. I’ll most likely still check it out when it is out of the theatres and see what I think and if it follows the first two then it’ll have an unrated cut for home video.

  3. I haven’t even seen Taken 2 yet (although I do own the Blu-ray), so this one is definitely wait for home video for me…possibly wait for cable. Maybe if it bombs, Liam will go back to some ‘serious’ acting, but I’m guessing those studio paychecks are hard to say no to.

    • Phil Brown

      Alas, I think he’s stuck in action movie mode for a while. BUT, I actually don’t mind that. Most of the Neesploitation movies are pretty good. Taken 3 is just abysmal.

  4. Drew

    Phil, I really enjoy reading your reviews. Would you mind posting a 2014 Top Ten list? Perhaps there is a website that I can go to, in order to see your top 10 of 2014?

  5. I enjoyed Taken 2 to an extent, I didnt find the story to be all that bad, at least it made sense in comparing it to the first film. BUT the action in Taken 2 was pretty horrible. Megaton just cant direct and to think people rip on Michael Bay all of the time, at least Bay can put together coherent and awesomely filmed action scenes (the rest not so much), but when a movie like this relies pretty much all on action scenes and ones that NEED to be seen properly, well it fails right out of the gate.

    Then you make a sequel called Taken where in NO ONE gets taken? Yeah thats pretty lazy.

    Now I’m all up for Liam Neeson kicking major ass, the first Taken was awesome and its still one I can gleefully enjoy but when they added Megaton as the director, it all went down hill fast. He’s what ruined the Transporter franchise too, I loved the first two Transporter movies (especially some of the added footage in the unrated version of the #2 if you can find it) but Megaton took over for Transporter 3 and completely ruined the great action cheesefest that had been going on (at least we got Statham and Crank after that :)).

    So I’m staying far away from this director except possibly a rental at home, otherwise I hope Neeson stays away from him as well in the future. Of course who knows if that will happen since Taken 3 was #1 at the box office finally dethroning The Hobbit…..ugh

  6. That comment about shooting in L.A. so that everyone is home in time for dinner is priceless! I can’t stop laughing! I wish someone would tell This Olivier Megatron guy that shaky cam isn’t cool when watching fight scenes or car chases. That was one my biggest beefs with Taken 2 and it seems like he’s still at it.

  7. Timcharger

    “Even Neeson seems to have put less than no effort into his performance. The editors constantly have to awkwardly cut around his refusal to run,”

    Ha! Ha! Too funny.
    What was the movie where an older-aged cop makes a crack
    about stopping all that stupid running around? Was it a
    Bruce Willis flick? An Arnold flick? Was it Danny Glover in one
    of the Lethal Weapons?

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