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Taken 3 (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 108 minutes.

Not for children.

Every year, it seems, Liam Neeson presents us with a year-opening thriller. The first, Taken, was one of the box office hits of 2008. It was a surprise because nobody was expecting much from a January thriller. The second, Taken 2, was equally well received. Now comes the third, and it is clear that the franchise has neared its end.

Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen has apparently run out of ideas. This is a formulaic, often preposterous, excursion into revenge violence. The first two were about revenge violence, also, but there was a thread of credibility to them. This one borders on camp. In fact several lines brought guffaws from my audience on the Fox lot. Worse, Kamen shows his unfamiliarity with the rules of grammar when he has Neeson say, ďThereís nothing between Lenore and I.Ē It amazes me that someone who makes his living writing could have one his characters make such an ungrammatical mistake, unless he was doing so to show that the character is ungrammatical, which certainly isnít the case here. Worse, how did nobody catch this? Is everyone involved poorly educated in English grammar? It doesnít say much for Neeson that he didnít object to saying it.

Despite this, Neeson does his typical commendable job with his character, ex-covert operative Bryan Mills. But the bad guys, with their foreign accents and unshaven faces, just donít seem that bad anymore. They are caricatures. In fact, the Russian/Slavic bad guy is getting tiresome. The bad guys in todayís world are Arabic, but politically correct Hollywood doesnít have the stomach to portray them as such.

There are lots of stunts involving cars and they are pretty good, but the things involving our hero, Brian, are just so outlandish that they leap over the line of credibility. Spoiler alert. Just as an example, in one scene Brian is trapped in an elevator. He gets out of the elevator and is now trapped in the elevator shaft. The elevator starts falling and explodes. Flames completely envelope the elevator shaft where Brian was hiding on a ladder. The next scene shows him on the street moving on with no explanation of how he got out of the elevator shaft and why he wasnít killed by the explosion and fire.

Another hoary symbol is used when a car is pushed off a cliff and tumbles and tumbles and tumbles. Then it comes to a stop and explodes. It doesnít catch fire; it explodes. This is such an antediluvian device; and itís not what happens when a car goes off a cliff. It does not explode.

The violence is also so over the top that it defies credibility. The fights are absurdly violent. People, including Brian, take blows that, if they didn't kill the person, certainly would have disabled them for six months, but still jump up fighting.

Director Luc Besson has clearly lost his way in this film. Oh, well, all good things must come to an end, and thatís whatís happened to this franchise. Too bad. With new blood it could continue for a long time. But this one could be the killing blow.