Review: Tak3n (2015)

Tak3n - 2015 - 1

Director: Olivier Megaton
Screenwriters: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott, Sam Spruell, Leland Orser & Jonny Weston
Runtime: 100 min // Certificate: 12a

If you go down this road, the LAPD, the FBI, the CIA… they’re all gonna come for you. They’ll find you. And they’ll stop you.” – Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker)
Good luck.” – Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson)

Taken was, against all the odds, a tight, coherent and unashamedly bonkers B-movie that helped to reinvigorate the flagging hero-led action film and give Liam Neeson, its central star, a whole new lease of life. Its sequel, a shameless cash-grab that just about survived on the ridiculous notion of, to quote John McClane, the same shit happening to the same guy twice, was a watered-down, lazy waste of celluloid in which the only saving grace was Neeson’s continued ability to kick ass and take names. Having taken his daughter and then his wife, most sensible audience members assumed that there was nothing left for Bryan Mills’ enemies to deprive him of. Regrettably for him and, more importantly, for us, we were dead fucking wrong…

Taken 3, a.k.a Tak3n, a.k.a Takin’ the Piss sees Neeson’s Mills deprived not of a physical, tangible person (though his long-suffering wife Lenore – played by Famke Janssen – does get a mild reprieve when she snuffs it in the first act) but of the arbitrary notion that is his freedom. It is at this point that the joke becomes too much to bear. They simply aren’t trying anymore and, if they are, then they’re making a complete bollocks of the whole affair. Neeson, who is now most famous for phoning in threats to those who wish him and his family harm, here phones in an entire performance as he wades his way through a witless screenplay that is as far removed from what made the original film so mindlessly enjoyable as it is possible to get, while poor Maggie Grace is lumbered with the regressive “damsel in distress” role for the third film running.

What we have, in layman’s terms, is a film that doesn’t give a shit about its audience. The committee is in full flow here as the toothless, abysmally choreographed and edited action sequences lumber on without a hint of peril or suspense and the script spits in the face of those foolish enough to give this pathetic franchise one last chance. Megaton’s lazy direction and Luc Besson’s atrocious screenplay do nothing to inspire even a titter from the crowd, most of who will surely have given up well before the first act is over, and not even the sight of Liam Neeson beating foreign gangsters up can salvage it because the violence is so sanitised. Not a drop of blood is spilled on screen as the filmmakers seek to capitalise on the largest possible audience. Artistic virtue (if such a thing can ever be applied to a film like Taken, but bear with me) is bent over a barrel in favour of making the largest possible profit margin which, considering how much of a sleeper hit the first film was, is pretty damn insulting to everyone involved.

There is simply nothing good on offer here at all. It is an ugly film, both literally and figuratively, and no amount of shaky-cam action can stop it from being impossibly boring. The promise on the poster that “it ends here” will feel like a blessing by the time the credits roll, though with the film raking in such a colossal profit already there’s no guarantee that said promise will even be kept. Nonetheless, if Taken 2 didn’t put a bullet in the back of this pointless franchise’s head, Tak3n certainly should. Alas, T4ken is already being seriously discussed, but if you have any respect for yourself or, indeed, for what’s left of Neeson’s career, you’ll steer well clear of that.

This is cinema at its most redundant. Crass, lazy and utterly devoid of anything even resembling talent, Tak3n is a joke of a film in which the joke is, unfortunately, on those of us stupid enough to go and watch it.