Review – A Certain Set of Skills is Missing Here – Writing, Directing, etc . (“Taken 3”)

Liam Neeson returns for his swan song in final movie of the Taken trilogy where he plays Bryan Mills, a divorced man that has had a extremely bad couple of years thrown at him. First, his daughter gets kidnapped in Paris and almost sold into slavery (Taken), then his wife and daughter are almost killed while vacationing in Turkey (Taken 2), and now… well, let’s just say his life hasn’t improved any.

In what is by far the worst of the series, this lame story starts with your basic Russian bad guys who are hit-men for your basic Russian mob boss who wants his money. The guy who’s short in his payment is Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott) who’s married to Bryan’s former wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). Meanwhile, Bryan’s daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) has just discovered she’s pregnant and can’t quite tell her dad.

After Stuart (a real sleaze-ball) tells Bryan to stop seeing his wife, because they’re having some marital difficulties, Bryan comes home the next day to find Lenore dead in his bed and the police pointing guns at him! Faster than you can say, “I didn’t do it”, Bryan escapes and is on the run, thanks to his ex-military buddies and a safe house located in a junk yard. Clever police inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) and his inept cops try and track down the fugitive, but are stymied at every turn while Bryan searches for clues as to who killed his ex-wife and why.

There’s badly filmed car chases, badly filmed fight scenes, Houdini-like escapes from the most death-defying explosions and accidents you’ll ever see, and ludicrous expositions that end with Bryan and his daughter teaming up with dad’s friend’s to stop the Russian bad guys once and for all. There’s also a sizable body count, but no blood anywhere. Odd. Look for a very, very quick cameo by Wallace Langham, who plays Hodges on TV’s CSI: Vegas in one scene.

Where do I begin to describe just how bad this movie is? The script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen is filled with hopelessly lame dialogue, a boring plot, and below standard generic characters. Oliver Megaton gets my award for Worst Director as does Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz for Worst Editing AND Eric Kress for Worst Cinematography. Sloppy, sloppy, direction that was all over the map with horribly filmed action sequences that looks like it done by a five-year -old, terrible editing that was done with a weed-whacker on crack, and everything shot with a yellow filter, for some idiotic reason, making all the actors look like they have jaundice! OMG!! I’m not kidding!

Neeson said in 2012, right after Taken 2, that he was never going to do another Taken movie, but they threw $20 million at him and boom! We have this lousy movie with a horrible screenplay and even worse direction. I guess some actors will do anything for a sizable paycheck. Do yourself a favor and stick with the original Taken, which was imaginative, exciting, and playfully gripping. Even Taken 2 was okay in many ways, but THIS? Hoo-boy! And what about the title?? NOBODY even gets “taken”… except the audience, maybe… for their ticket price!!

The Fugitive (1993)

Based on the 1960’s TV series about a man falsely accused of killing his wife, Harrison Ford stars in this gripping adventure of one man’s odyssey to seek justice for himself, while a bulldog Tommy Lee Jones stops at nothing to track him down. You don’t get any better than this, people.

In the TV series, which ran for four years, Dr. Richard Kimball was accused of murdering his wife, which he blamed on a mysterious “one-armed” man that he fought with at the scene of the crime. In the final episode, Kimball finally catches the real killer while the dogged police lieutenant helps clear Kimball’s name. At that time, it was the #1 most watched TV show in history.  The movie version didn’t stray too far from the TV premise.

The good doctor (Ford) fights off the killer (Andreas Katsulas as the evil Frederick Sykes),  but is sentenced anyway for his wife’s murder. A freak train accident and a failed prison break aboard the transport bus makes good Kimball’s escape, but that only brings out the ‘big dog’, Deputy Marshall Sam Gerard (Jones–sterling performance) and his crack team from Chicago.  They put out the word to scour every “gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse, and doghouse in that area”. Kimball tries his best to hide in all-too realistic nail-biting scenes that culminate in a dizzying leap from a mile-high storm drain.

Undaunted, Kimball goes back to Chicago to find the real killer, much to the amazement of Gerard. He takes a phony job as a hospital janitor by day, while seeking out his former colleagues, Dr. Nichols (Jeroen Krabbe) and Dr. Wahlund (Jane Lynch) to find out answers. Kimball discovers, much to his shock and surprise, that HE was the target of the  assassination, not his wife! Why? Apparently a brand new drug worth millions isn’t everything it’s supposed to be and Kimball was too close to finding out. But who was behind it all?

A damn fine screenplay from Jeb Stuart and David Twohy and skillfully directed by Andrew Davis, this movie just pops on screen from moment one. The characters are all well defined and fleshed out beautifully, the real Chicago setting adds to the authenticity, and the dialoge is intelligent and flavorful. I really love this movie. It never condescended to your A-typical “chase” film, but was a real meaty thinking-man’s story with a detective novel thrown in for good measure.


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