Quality: This score indicates entertainment value.
0 stars is horrible, while 5 stars is spectacular.
Political: This score addresses political messaging.
0 stars is aggressively anti-Conservative, while 5 stars is highly pro-Conservative. 3 stars is apolitical.
Moral/Religious (M/R): This score addresses moral and religious messaging.
0 stars is either intensely immoral or all-out, needless assault on Christianity. 5 stars is either great moral messaging or highly pro-Christian. 3 stars is inoffensive either way.
Quality – 2 stars, Political – 4 stars, M/R – 3 stars
“Who am I? That’s not important right now. What should matter to you is what I do. I am a political writer. Though I never actually leave home, I have amassed deadly skills through hundreds of hours playing ‘Game of War.’ I do not rest. I rarely shower, as that is not one of my particular skills. I make my wife wear Kate Upton’s costume from the ‘Game of War’ commercials. My wife is only 5’1”, so she must pull the sword behind her in a red wagon. In truth, I can’t be sure you’ve taken her, as she might only be standing behind the wagon. I’ll go check when we’re done speaking.”
“This is your last chance. There will not be another, as I am over on my minutes.”
What you’ve just read is the script for my voice mail. Yes, I love the “Taken” movies.
In “Taken 3,” Liam Neeson returns as ex-CIA agent, Bryan Mills. Now in his 60’s, Neeson nonetheless carries himself well as the brutal, methodical, aging action hero. This time the mayhem takes place stateside, in L.A., beginning with Russian mafia types viciously killing an innocent to send a message. Standard stuff for the “Taken” series.
More awkward is the following scene where Bryan brings a big teddy bear to his now adult daughter (Kim, played by Maggie Grace) for her birthday. Too old for such a gift, Kim is also distraught from some recent news—but her choice to actually reject the bear and have Bryan take it back seems awfully cold. Aren’t dads supposed to give corny, impractical gifts sometimes? It’s sad to see Bryan driving away, the bear seated next to him.
But the story must move forward, and Bryan finds his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) murdered in his own bed. Bryan’s framed, of course, and a chase ensues. Bryan is after the real killers. The cops are after Bryan. Leading the cops is Forest Whitaker as Detective Frank Dotzler; who, though very bright, fidgets too much. He carries a chess piece—okay, that makes sense for a bright, deductive thinker. But he also plays with a rubber band, which is irritating. He taps his fingers. Fortunately, his hair isn’t long, or he would probably twirl it while popping gum and humming tunes from “Frozen.” It’s annoying. There’s a real “Rain Man” quality here.
“Detective Dotzler, we’ve got Mills cornered. Let’s go!”
“Can’t. Time for Wapner.”
Though some twists emerge as Bryan closes on the villain, the predictable plot lacks that tension we expect from Bryan Mill’s exploits. It’s too bad. I love revenge flicks, from “Braveheart” to “Kill Bill” to “Punisher” to the last part of “Kung Fu Panda”—it’s great when evil receives its comeuppance. And true to form, Bryan puts a villain through some of his CIA-style, “Enhanced Interrogation.” Good stuff. But the plot is mostly known early on, and the action feels frenetic, like someone fastened a camera to the end of a firehose and turned on the water.
Aimless and chaotic, the images switch every few frames of film. Now you see many cars chasing one car. Now you see a bumper. Now a trunk pulls away. Now you see Mills steering. Now a car spins out of control. Now the bear is steering. Now a car rolls down a hill—shouldn’t have let the bear drive. Before long, you’d give anything to watch just five seconds of straight footage.
It’s disorienting, really. Leaving the auditorium, moviegoers were bumping into each other, unable to regain equilibrium. One teenager kept running in a circle, begging passersby to make it stop—but we had our own problems. I myself plowed through several yards on the way home. Just…couldn’t…focus.
And in the end, neither could this film. The silly, “wrap-it-up” dialogue at the end fell flat, and even the fight scenes were too patchy. Pity. Like so many third-in-the-series movies—there have been a lot recently!—this unflattering conclusion to the “Taken” series leaves a bad taste.
I hope there isn’t a fourth. I might not make it home.