Mills and boom
“You’re always saying I’m so predictable!” Liam Neeson tells Maggie Grace at the beginning of this third and probably final vehicle for the indomitable Bryan Mills, he of the intimidating phone manner and very particular set of skills. “I wanted to shake it up a bit!” Alas, what few shake-ups there are in Taken 3 – a location shift from Europe to Los Angeles, a running-man plot and a distinct shortage of actual taking – are generally to the detriment of a franchise.
Where Liam’s ex-covert operative had his family’s welfare at heart in the original Taken and its 2012 follow-up, he’s merely saving his own skin in Olivier Megaton’s threequel – the result of a hoary, Fugitive-style bereavement that sees him framed for a murder he did not commit. The action that follows displays a similar lack of vim and invention, neutered as it is by a 12A certificate that renders every shoot-out bloodless and every impact softened by an immediate cut-away.
True, there’s mild fun to be had watching Neeson reverse a car down a liftshaft or hijack the cop car that’s taking him to the big house. At no point, however, do we ever feel he’s in any genuine peril – a consequence, perhaps, of pitting him against as gormless a collection of goons and coppers as ever populated a mainstream Hollywood thriller.
Watching Mills run rings around Forest Whitaker’s supposedly smart detective resembles nothing so much as a sadistic pet-owner tormenting a cat with a light-pen. Small wonder, then, that he dispenses with the Mafioski villains with ease, looking as bored as he does so as you’re bound to be at the end of this dispiriting cash-in.