Taken 3 isn’t just the worst film because not many movies are out this year. It’s the worst because it is THE WORST. But first, because it must be done, to the entire production crew of Taken 3:
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know how you think. If you are looking for my money, I can tell you that you already have it. But what I do have are a very particular set of writing skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me review crap made by people like you. If you stop no, this will be the end of it. I will not review you again, I will not pursue you. But if you make Taken 4, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will review the s&*t out of you.
Taken 3 isn’t just the worst movie of the year so far–it will be my worst movie of the entire year come December. And it will be one of the worst movies ever. I give it a solid 0 out of 10 cell phones.
Normally that would be all I write because we typically just post mini-reviews here at Gabbing Geek. But this movie is so awful, so horrible, that it deserves all the vitriol and rage that I’m about to throw its way. Because I love Taken. Taken is one of the all-time great movies. It’s the kind of movie that anytime it is on I will stop and watch it. It doesn’t just flow, it flies from scene to scene and act to act. It is a close to perfect film.
Taken 3 is the exact opposite of that. This review is necessary to cleanse my mind of the toxic impurities the movie has introduced. I would say that my rant contains spoilers except that it is not possible to spoil something this rotten. It was spoiled long ago and not by me. Still, if you are a glutton for punishment and wish to have certain atrocities only revealed first-hand, then stop reading now. Leave with my condolences.
Still here? Let’s proceed.
Fighting/Action. We all know Bryan Mills can kick a ton of ass. A metric ton, actually, since he seems to do it mostly in Europe. There are only a few fights in Taken 3 but the ones that take place are the most frustrating fights or chases ever filmed. They do not make sense. Movements do not flow from one shot to another and the edits are so fast and so sudden it will leave you with a headache. Michael Bay has a reputation for making tons of quick edits–these fight scenes are like taking the most frantic Michael Bay scene, giving it four shots of espresso, putting it in a blender set to Puree, and then the scene has a grand mal seizure. The visual assault will leave you shocked–not with the brutality of it (like The Raid 2 did last year) but with the “Wait, who did what now?” of it all. I wonder if they had a contractual dispute with the fight choreographer and this was their way of punishing him. Instead the audience gets punished.
The Car Chase. Because this is an action film set in Los Angeles of course it has a car chase. And of course there is very little traffic around the car chase which enables them to actually drive. I accept that as part of the Movieverse where most films take place. But this car chase is beyond horrible. It breaks so many laws of physics that the entire Fast and Furious franchise probably watched this and said “Oh come on now!”
The big car chase in Taken 3 is so awful I have to break it down even further to list out all the problems.
- There’s no traffic except for where they are driving. This is probably true when you are filming but then you DO NOT SET UP SWEEPING CAMERA SHOTS FROM HELICOPTERS SHOWING IT! They had several shots showing a wide open freeway with just a cluster of cop cars and few targets…er, innocent cars nearby. The shots were unnecessary and all they did was show you how far from reality was this entire chase.
- There are no other drivers. At one point a bunch of cars crash and end up stopped on the freeway. Which then causes a truck carrying a giant block of metal (not kidding, they were out of special effects budget I’m guessing) to jackknife. The giant block of metal is not attached in any way to the truck, because screw you safety, so it naturally launches into the air and crushes all the cars that have stopped. All of them. Doesn’t matter where they were. And as it crushes the cars we’re careful to observe that they are all empty. The doors are open, nobody is inside. And then we’re given a wide shot of the devastation to reveal–THERE IS NOBODY NEARBY. Nobody. No drivers, no passengers, no people at all. Thank goodness Bryan choose to lead the cops through a Google Self-Driving car demonstration or this could’ve been bad.
- The cars are morons. I have to call the cars morons because, like I said, there are no drivers. But all the cars that crashed before the big truck came along? There were two waves of them. The first wave got caught up in some silly turn or flip or something. Then there’s several seconds of calm before a second wave just SLAMS into the first wave of cars. Either the cars are morons or nobody uses their brakes in LA. Hmmm…actually that might be true.
- Bryan’s car can jump like KITT. Yes, we’re STILL NOT DONE with this stupid car chase. Bryan has stolen a police car and as he takes control of the car by pushing out the passenger (seatbelt, detective!) and then forces the driver to swerve like an idiot. At one point they hit the large center concrete divider and it correctly pushes them back into the lane. That’s what those inclines at the bottom are designed to do. But that was only the first time. The next time he accidentally moves the steering wheel too much to the left the car apparently activates its KITT-jump-jets and FLIES OVER THE GODDAMNED DIVIDER. It then proceeds to drive the wrong way against the stream of cars that have magically appeared. Probably because they heard there was a flying car on the 405 and that’s something you’d want to see in person.
- Bryan’s car can fix itself. Still not done. Because near the end of the chase Bryan’s car gets slammed into not once, not twice, but by THREE different cars. They hit the rear quarter and send him spinning, they hit the back middle and send him reeling, then it’s hit again. That’s some significant and totally expected body damage for an action film. Know what Bryan does? He puts it into reverse, swings the car around, and drives forward in a car that now DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A SCRATCH ON IT. Not a one. At this point I expect it to be revealed that he’s actually driving Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- The end of the chase. How does Bryan evade the cops with his magic car? First he drives up to the top floor of a parking garage because naturally an expert like Bryan would drive into a concrete structure with limited exits and large concrete barriers. Getting away is for regular people. So when the cop cars surround him he simply backs up and slides down an empty elevator shaft. Now that you’ve let that image enter your brain imagine when he’s hit the bottom, the car wedged into the shaft facing upwards. His hand reaches outside the window because the door can’t open and–BOOM!–the car explodes. We even see the whole elevator shaft explode. Very next shot? Bryan’s walking on the roof of another building. Because we don’t need to explain that to you. You’re in Taken 3, rube.
- That’s not the only time they do that. Thankfully there isn’t another car chase. But there is another time when Bryan is clandestinely following the bad guys on a winding cliff road with no nearby roads at all when suddenly–OH WAIT THERE IS A NEARBY ROAD–and the bad guys slam into Bryan’s car (because they knew he was there?) and shove the car off a cliff. It rolls a few times, comes to a rest, and promptly explodes. Because this is what cars do in action films. Next shot? Bryan walking onto another road and stealing a car. I guess the second time the producers felt a brief moment of human emotion and felt guilty about using the same trick twice so they try to explain it in flashbacks while Bryan explains his escape to a guy whose truck he just stole. Happens all the time.
There won’t be blood. I’m not into gore, but you come to expect a certain amount of it in movies like Taken. Because if you have a particular set of skills that breaks bones and lets you become a one-man army of truthiness and freedom, some blood will be spilled. But in Taken 3 there is virtually no blood.
Which is really strange because it should be there. I don’t mean it deserves its place–I mean it’s like they forgot to add it during the shoot and then didn’t do so later. Case in point: Bryan’s ex-wife is killed and her body dumped in his apartment to frame him. When we see her lying in bed it’s only Bryan’s frantic attempt to find a pulse that tells us it’s lacking (at one point he slaps her wrist because apparently covert ops teaches you how to restart a pulse that way). She looks fine. Peaceful. Sure, her chest isn’t moving but half the people in LA use anesthesia to sleep anyway.
She was killed by having her throat slashed. We are told this later and we see her in the morgue with a nasty scar across her neck. But when she was lying in the supposed scene of the murder there is NO BLOOD AT ALL! There’s a knife with a bit of blood on it and ONE DROP OF BLOOD on the floor (conveniently marked by an evidence marker with a “J” even though it’s the only one in the entire apartment) but this was a woman killed by her throat being sliced open!
Near the end of the movie Bryan also shoots a bad guy a few times in the chest. They show the guy’s chest and I couldn’t tell if he’d been shot or had some weird looking moles. There’s no blood. None. They guy’s teeth has a bit of blood so it look gross when he curses Bryan’s particular set of skills, but no blood anywhere else. The listing agent for the penthouse where the murder took place will be happy about avoiding all those pesky clean-up charges before the open house.
The worst police force in the world. I know, it’s the LAPD, but still. In this case we have the quirky detective played by Forest Whitaker. We know he’s quirky because he carries around a chess piece. A knight. Because he’s quirky. He also likes to snap a rubber band on his wrist. Because he…likes the pain? To remind him not to lose the chess piece? We don’t know. But maybe all this quirkiness is why nobody listens to him. At one point every detective in LA is at a mansion looking for clues when they suddenly realize the bad guys are far away. So Forest Whitaker yells at everyone to get downtown right now! Nobody moves. The camera actually swivels around to reveal that nobody is moving. At all. They’re just standing there talking. Probably figuring they can just chill at the mansion while all the dangerous stuff goes down.
The jet that wants to crash. In the final act of the film, the bad guy has taken Bryan’s daughter hostage and is on a private jet taking off from a private airport (even though this bad guy KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED in the past two movies, he apparently thinks he’s the one who can get away with kidnapping Bryan’s daughter). The jet is in the middle of taking off and the front of the jet has lifted off the ground when Bryan drives his stolen Porsche onto the runway and swerves the car so it removes the front landing gear from the jet.
Just so I’m clear–the jet is in the process of flying into the sky and the landing gear, which is off the ground and not even needed at this point, has just been taken off by a car. So what does the jet do? Does it take off into the sky where it will be relatively safe until it can figure out a plan for landing later, perhaps farther away from this maniac with a Porsche? Of course not. THE JET CRASHES TO THE RUNWAY. Because…I have no idea. I give up.
Bryan suddenly can’t shoot. One of the greatest things about the end of the original Taken was how Bryan took out the main bad guy. The main bad guy was just a rich tub of lard–all his security professionals had already been taken out by Bryan. So when Bryan gets there, having single handedly defeated all the qualified people, he has no problem with the tub of lard. Sure, Tubbie has a knife pulled on Bryan’s daughter, but Bryan still shoots him in the head anyway. Because that’s how good Bryan is at shooting people who have kidnapped his daughter.
Guess what? BRYAN CAN’T DO THAT ANYMORE! Exact same situation happens near the end of Taken 3 (except bad guy has a gun) and the bad guy even provides a better target than the first movie, if that’s possible, and still Bryan can’t shoot until his daughter elbows the bad guy and dives away. Oh, and then he shoots the guy in the side. Because Bryan lost both his ability to shoot and his sense of justice.
The plot. Because everything I’ve already told you is minor when compared to the story this movie is trying to tell. Taken was simple–daughter kidnapped, covert ops dad gets her back no matter the cost. Taken 2 was simple–daughter and ex-wife kidnapped, covert ops dad gets them back no matter the cost. Taken 3’s plot…take a deep breath…covert ops dad framed for murder of ex-wife by the new husband so that new husband can collect life insurance policy while framing a shady business partner for the ex-wife-murder-frame-job and have the covert ops dad kill the contract killers while threatening covert ops dad’s daughter’s life. I actually just did a better job summarizing the story than the movie did because the motivation for the new husband flip flops. At the start of the movie it’s because he owes these contract killers money. That’s later revealed not to be true, making the whole start of the movie non-sensical (well, even MORE non-sensical).
It also doesn’t make sense because if he just owes money he has lots of ways to collect. The life insurance policy, we’re told, is for $12 million. We also see his cars and two mansions–either mansion would be worth well over $12 million. And if it isn’t about collecting the money but rather just getting rid of his business partners then why put the money into the story anyway? The producers must have figured two half-assed motives were as good as a single decent motive.
The hook for Taken 4. Because, yes, the producers here have left themselves an opening for Taken 4. Of course they have. Here, after the bad guy (the new husband) is shot in the side, Bryan is convinced not to kill the scumbag new husband by his daughter. Instead, he tells the guy that he knows with all his money and fancy lawyers he’ll get out in a few years. So Bryan says when the new husband gets out of prison, Bryan will be there and kill him as soon as he gets out. Really? You’re going to kill someone in a Taken movie? THEN JUST KILL HIM RIGHT NOW. This is the Taken franchise–you get away with that here. Bryan may as well have said “I’m kinda out of people to kill so we’ll let you recover in case I can’t find a decent script in three years.”
And that’s it. Or at least all I have the energy to explain. There’s more, but it’s time to cut my losses. It’s time for us all to bid a (formerly fond) farewell to this movie franchise. Because if it tries to come back from the dead I think we all have permission to hunt it down and kill it.