Taken 3 is a film I didn’t expect to be reviewing when I saw the comparatively low-budget original Taken movie, where Bryan Mills’ daughter, Kim, was kidnapped… sorry, taken. It was okay but nothing more. However, the modest $25m investment led to a return nearing $150m in the US, alone, by the time it left the cinemas.
Taken 2, which was terrible beyond words, upped the budget to a still quite modest $45m and took close to $150m again. And then came Taken 3. Just a slight amount more in the budget pot at $48m, while taking a lower amount at $89m in the US box office, but in any event, films like the Taken series will also find a large audience on the home market, on Blu-ray, DVD, streaming et al.
And since Taken 3 was a hugely successful continuation of the series, then despite the tagline “It ends here“, I would very much doubt that. In fact, I expect that in years to come, after Liam Neeson shuffles off his mortal coil, the family dog will Lassie-style, head out across the world to avenge the murder of his owner, a murder which was made to look like a suicide, but the dog knew something was up because Russian mafia boss, Ivan Dobrydov, called him for walkies with a terrible attempt at an American accent… just like Neeson, in fact, but you know how dogs have a sixth sense for this sort of thing. That film will be Taken 19: Dogged.
(Yes, about as original as ‘Taken‘, ‘Taken 2‘ and ‘Taken 3‘)
However, as bad as the second installment was, I was curious to see just what they’d do in the third movie – surely they’ve run through the whole family now, and it might be the hamster that gets it?
That said, I’ve gone into other movies with very low expectations, like Transformers: Age of Extinction, and been pleasantly surprised.
And I couldn’t watch it in the cinema as all three films have been censored in that format, but more on that later.
The film begins with Bad Russian Guy (Malankov, played by Sam Spruell) telling Timid American Guy that they have a problem, because the man’s boss owes him a lot of money. And Bad Russian Guy looks like Jason Flemyng with a bad bowl haircut, rather like something dating back to the 1990’s “Madchester” music style. Naturally, Bad Russian Guy doesn’t get his money and Timid American Guy gets a bullet in the shoulder for his trouble, which seems to somehow kill him.
As for what or who gets taken in this ‘threequel’, it’s clearly the letter ‘M’ from the name of Kim’s boyfriend, as he’s called “Jimy”.
Well, no, it’s not that. That would be daft, surely? No sooner than Bryan being warned off seeing ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) in any shape or form by new hubby Stuart (Dougray Scott), does he find her dead in her apartment. The cops turn up seconds later, assume it’s him and before you can say “Bryan – show us your particular set of skills!“, he’s incapacitated the donut eaters and he’s now on the run, accused of a crime he didn’t commit (nice fresh plot, then).
Forest Whitaker sports a ridiculous goatee as chief cop Dotzler, and many times you’ll be asking how did Bryan get to where he is, location-wise. Implausibility is the name of the game, here, and when Dotzler is asked by an underling about sending someone to track Mills’ current location, the cop ignores the “Finding bad guys” handbook and says, “Don’t bother. He’s gone“, in exactly the same a real cop wouldn’t.
The dialogue is excruiatingly bad. As Bryan invites Lenore over for dinner, and she rejects him for no other reason than she can look empowered as the lens flare shines all around her, he subsequently tells the stuffed panda toy sat next to him, “I know what you’re thinking… keep it to yourself.”
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film, plus a look at the presentation and the extras.
The dialogue is complemented by director Olivier Megaton not being able to keep the camera in a fixed position, even when filming a simple conversation between Bryan and Kim – the oldest girl still in school since Maggie Grace is over 30 – as she’s about to tell him she’s up the duff, only to be interrupted by a screaming brat in the background kicking up a stink in the restaurant. And later, even filming Neeson vaulting over a fence requires at least ten separate cuts, whereas one simple shot woud have sufficed. Taken 3 was clearly filmed to attract even those with Attention Deficit Disorder from falling asleep. Put this into practice for all action scenes and it subtracts rather than adds, big-time. What a shame.
In fact, it looks like it’s been directed by a child who’s just swallowed a ton of E numbers.
At one point, to evade the cops, Bryan immerses himself in a tide of effluent. Oh, how prophetic!
And if anyone set off a grenade in a public building in the UK, they’d soon be arrested for terrorism offences, whereas here, it doesn’t seem to matter.
Taken 3 does nothing original, and it’s also quite a badly-made film, so it beggars belief that it’s such a successful franchise.
It’s also a fact that any mainstream film shoved into the cinemas in January and February – that’s not an Oscar/BAFTA contender – is often placed there like an embarrassment, hidden in plain sight yet out of the way at the same time. That’s because the blockbuster movies are saved for the summer or other holiday seasons. So by all accounts, Taken 3 should’ve sunk without trace soon after release. But it didn’t. It defied the odds and continued to make a ton of money.
See you back here in 2017 for Taken 4, then…
Oh, about the censorship issue, Taken was cut to get a 15-certificate in the cinema, whereas it was released for home viewing in an uncut 18-cert form. And both Taken 2 and Taken 3 were sliced to get a 12-cert in the cinema, whereas an uncut 15-cert is out on Blu-ray and DVD. This really is an appalling practice. And I would’ve gone to see A Good Day To Die Hard in the cinema had Fox not sliced that down to a 12A, meaning I had to wait for the Blu-ray before I could watch the full uncut version, whereas the DVD was censored.
The uncut versions of these films often get referred to as an “Extended Harder Cut”, when in fact they are simply “Not Censored”.
Even the recent Kingsman was cut for violence to a 15-certificate. Sadly, this censored version also exists on Blu-ray and DVD, whereas an uncut 18-certificate version could’ve been released. Similarly, Fox also chose to leave The Maze Runner as a censored 12-cert version on both Blu-ray and DVD, as it was in the cinema. Just who makes these narrow-minded decisions at Fox?
Oh, and just one final question, which I’ll hide under a spoiler tag:
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and you’d be surprised if it was not a top-notch transfer for a brand new film, and so the most positive thing I can say about this release is that, for all fans of Taken 3, you’ll be very pleased with a pin-sharp and colourful transfer. I watched this on a Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and while it was okay, there just wasn’t a great deal to wow me in the aural department – it was just a lot of noise. Certainly no split-surround sounds that I can remember.
The extras are as follows but there’s nothing to get too excited about:
- Deleted Scene – Flashback Malankov (7:16): Basically an extension of what we saw in the film, presuming that’s also in the theatrical version. I watched the extended one.
- Sam’s Bunker, aka The Rabbit Hole (3:01): Leland Orser, aka Bryan’s mate Sam, talks us briefly through the tricks of his trade which get Bryan through his mission.
- Tak3n To LA (4:16): A bog-standard uninspiring making-of with behind-the-scenes clips set amongst chat from key cast and crew. Too brief to be of any real use.
- A Taken Legacy (4:54): More of the same.
- Gallery: A mere 12 images.
- Audio descriptive track: For the theatrical version only.
- Theatrical trailer (2:15): In the original 2.35:1 ratio.
There are subtitles and languages in a fair few apiece, all listed at the bottom of the review. Oddly – and as usual, the box erroneously states English-only. This will put some people off if they don’t know, 20th Century Fox.
The menu mixes clips from the film with incidental music. Chapters are plentiful, which is a rarity these days, as there are 32 across the 115-minute running time. Whoever was in charge of that here should do them for ALL Blu-rays and DVDs!
Running time: 115 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Released: June 15th 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, all non-English languages vary betwween DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, Turkish, Ukranian
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Italian, Brazillian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Chinese (again?), Portuguese, Thai, Turkish, Ukranian, English text (whatever that is)
Format: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Hawkscope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Olivier Megaton
Producer: Luc Besson
Screenplay: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Music: Nathaniel Méchaly
Bryan Mills: Liam Neeson
Franck Dotzler: Forest Whitaker
Lenore St. John: Famke Janssen
Kim Mills: Maggie Grace
Stuart St. John: Dougray Scott
Oleg Malankov: Sam Spruell
Garcia: Don Harvey
Smith: Dylan Bruno
Sam Gilroy: Leland Orser
Bernie Harris: David Warshofsky
Mark Casey: Jon Gries
Jimy: Jonny Weston
Clarence: Andrew Borba
Claire: Judi Beecher
Maxim: Andrew Howard
Maxim Partner #1: Cedric Cirotteau
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.