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TAKEN 3: 1 STAR. “it’s audiences that get brutalized in ‘Taken 3.'”

taken3In “Taken 3” Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills a former “preventer” for the US government. A specialist in black ops, he was an undercover agent who contained volatile situations before they got out of control. The first film saw him use his “particular set of skills” to rescue his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from some very nasty kidnappers.

Then he did it again in “Taken 2.”

The third time is a charm—for the daughter, anyway. She’s fine, it’s audiences that get brutalized in “Taken 3.”

This time around Mills has to save himself and his family when he is wrongly accused of murder.

“If you go down this road,” says Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), “the LAPD, the FBI, the CIA are all going to come for you. They’ll find you and they will stop you.”

“Good luck,” grunts Mills, before going all medieval to protect everything dear to him.

Reports say “Taken 3” will be the final film in the franchise. Reviews will say they should have stopped at “Taken 2.”

The new movie is called “Taken 3,” because it is the third part of the “Taken” series, but I think it is also because director Olivier Megaton has “taken” everything away that made the first two movies so much fun. Gone are the trashily exotic locales of Paris and Istanbul, most of the in-your-face action and catchphrases about “special skills.”

Instead the film takes place in a generic looking Los Angeles, features only a car chase or two, a couple of lame fight scenes, a bit of bullet spray near the end and Yawn-O-Meter lines like, “I don’t know why. I don’t know who… but I’m gonna find out.”

Worse, it’s fairly clear from the onset who is responsible for the film’s murder McGuffin. I know you don’t come to the Liamnator’s movies for the intrigue—you come to see the big man in action—but when the action is this scant some intrigue would have helped pass the time.

Mills does find out who tried to frame him (NOT A SPOILER), but not before leaving a trail of chaos and destruction in his wake. He’s the most violent hero in years. The one crime he doesn’t commit is the one he is accused of. Other than that he proves his innocence by breaking every rule in the book. At the very least he should be charged with disturbing the peace on a nuclear scale.

Or perhaps the movie police could charge the script with crimes against cinema. Like a bad episode of “Murder She Wrote,” in the film’s closing minutes Mills details the minutia of the scheme to frame him, recapping every plot device we have just spent the last hundred minutes watching. Show me, or tell me, Mr. Neeson, please don’t show and then tell me.

We don’t go to the “Taken” movies to see great art, we go to have a good time at the movies. Unfortunately, this time around, that pleasure has been “taken” from us.

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