[Screen It]


(2015) (Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace) (PG-13)

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Action: A highly trained government assassin tries to clear his name when he is framed for his ex-wife's murder.
In between top-secret assignments, highly trained government assassin Bryan Mills (LIAM NEESON) tries to live the quiet life in Los Angeles. He resides near his college-age daughter, Kim (MAGGIE GRACE), and her mother/his ex-wife Lenore (FAMKE JANSSEN) and her second husband, Stuart (DOUGRAY SCOTT), a wealthy businessman.

Then one day, Bryan is shocked to find Lenore murdered in his apartment, her throat having been slit. The cops bust in and find him holding the murder weapon, which he had just picked up from the floor. Mills flees and is pursued by Franck Dotzler (FOREST WHITAKER), a dogged police investigator, and his top lieutenant Garcia (DON HARVEY) who slowly start to question his guilt.

Bryan, meanwhile reunites with his CIA-operative buddies Sam (LELAND ORSER) and Casey (JON GRIES), who help him out while he is on the run. Bryan eventually begins to suspect Stuart's involvement in Lenore's murder, and he eventually gets him to confess that he is in debt to a ruthless Russian mobster named Malankov (SAM SPRUELL) who also has it in for Bryan and his family.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

The poster for "Taken 3" features the ad slogan "It Ends Here." Oh puh-leze. If this lazy, uninvolving third film in the series clears $100 million at the North American box office as its two predecessors did, there will be a "Taken 4," and the tagline will read something like "You THOUGHT it ended there." And then the joke will be, "Well, who else in Bryan Mills' (Liam Neeson) life can possibly be taken? His cat?!" Oh no, friends. In this sequel, we learn that Mills' daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) is ... gulp ... pregnant! Do you know how much PG-13 bone-cracking Grandpa Black Ops will do when that wee babe gets kidnapped by some sneering Eurotrash in the next flick?

But first we have to get through "Taken 3," which is about as involving as a rerun of "The A-Team." In fact, I think this sequel was filmed on some of the same L.A. locations "The A-Team" used 30+ years ago. Yup, Neeson and family don't even leave the great SoCal area to go get into car chases and shootouts. And actually no one really gets taken in this flick either. It's more of a rip-off of "The Fugitive," with Mills being set up for the murder of his wife by a European baddie and pursued by a dogged investigator who comes to suspect that his target may be innocent. I mean, it's almost EXACTLY like "The Fugitive!" Only without style, weight, or artistic value.

It's also abysmally staged and photographed by director Olivier Megaton (not making that name up, folks), who shoots every action scene as if he's just running around the actors and stunt people shaking the camera and tossing it up in the air a few times for good measure. I guess this "style" of filmmaking is meant to hide the 62-year-old Neeson's physical limitations. But it's annoying as heck.

And that's to say nothing of the bad script. At one point, Neeson and his old CIA cronies actually pull off a neat maneuver in which they are able to extract Kim from a safe house that is anything but safe, only to then take her to ... the final showdown with the heavily armed Eastern European gangsters! Ugh. I tell you, the only person who is going to be taken here is YOU if you decide to pay cash money to see this. Don't. It rates no higher than a 3 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed January 8, 2015 / Posted January 9, 2015

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