Liam Neeson’s late-flowering as an action-hero is thanks in no small part to the menacing staccato he perfected in the first Taken film. He looks. He finds. He kills. But does saying everything. Like this. Amount to. Good acting? Delivered in such a way, even a nursery rhyme would sound threatening. Heads. Shoulders. Neeson. Toes. See?
In Taken 1, Neeson wrought genocidal vengeance on a number of non-American criminals who had the temerity to snatch his 17-year-old daughter from her gap year in the dangerous wasteland that is Europe.
In the second, it was he who was taken. In this, the third (and I fear, far from final), nothing is actually taken, unless you count the 112 minutes you never get back. Yes, three films in, director Olivier Megaton and writer-producer Luc Besson have become so lazy they can’t even be bothered to stick to the concept that gives the series its name.
The same laziness is evident in the contrived set-ups for action sequences, see-through plot-twists and poorly edited car-chases filled with continuity errors. Say what you like about the first two Taken films, they at least delivered brutally effective action. Taken 3 fails to live up to the high standard of knuckle-headedness set by the first and second instalments.
Despite Sly Stallone’s protestations, there’s an age limit to starring in a film like Taken. There’s only so many times you can watch a 62-year-old Neeson hurdling street furniture like a young Colin Jackson before you start getting suspicious. I hope they paid the stunt double well because he certainly puts in a shift here.
Besson’s sequel cynically cashes in on the unexpected success of the previous two films in the hope that there are still enough gullible cinema-goers willing to hand over fistfuls of cash to watch a few explosions interspersed with Neeson breathing heavily into a phone. Okay, maybe something is being taken here – the Michael.