Saturday, January 10, 2015

Taken 3

There was no good reason for me to see this stupid movie. Oh, sure, nobody else had reviewed it on eFilmCritic, but that doesn't actually create any obligation on my part. And just because a MoviePass card makes things essentially free after three or four movies in a month doesn't mean I have to see everything. I just like Liam Neeson, Luc Besson, and Famke Janssen, and even if I know she's going to make an early exit, I can at least hope there's something worthwhile buried inside of it.

But there's not. It's just bad all around, and while there's plenty of blame to go around, I'm really starting to wonder why Luc Besson keeps giving Olivier Megaton money to direct this sort of movie, because he is terrible at it. But the guy keeps failing upwards - Transporter 3 was the least impressive of that series, but at least Cory Yuen was still around to handle the action. Columbiana wasn't very good - it was messy - but that could mostly be lain at the feet of a bad screenplay. Taken 2 was pretty bad, though, really showing what a hash Megaton made of even simple action beats, but it made enough money that a third one was going to get made and the director was apparently considered part of the reason for its success. In between, he chopped up two episodes of Taxi Brooklyn (another example of Besson being willing to pound a franchise into the ground until there's nothing of the original appeal left).

I just don't get it - he's demonstrably terrible, and his boss is someone who is generally great at making an action movie feel nimble, clear, and exciting. Why keep giving a hack like this work, especially when your own reputation is being damaged with his terrible work?

Taken 3

* ¼ (out of four)
Seen 10 January 2015 in AMC Boston Common #18 (first-run, DCP)

Luc Besson almost certainly knows more about making action/adventure films than I do - there are times when he seems to have it down to a science - but there are a couple of things I'm pretty sure of: You should try to maximize the use of Famke Janssen, rather than minimize it, and Olivier Megaton's continued employment as a director of action/adventure movies owes more to his pseudonym than any particular skill at it. If I can see this, why can't Besson? Why besmirch the name of a movie that actually exceeded expectations like this?

After a teaser in which a Russian killer by the name of Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell) fails to get money we're owed, we catch up with former CIA operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), who is buying the sort of birthday present for his college-aged daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) that shows he still thinks of her as a little girl and meeting, in turn, with his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen), who is clearly still attracted to him, and her husband Stuart (Dougray Scott), who would kind of like it if Bryan backed off. Soon, Lenore is found dead in Bryan's apartment and he's being chased by the police, led by Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker).

Film-to-film continuity isn't really that important in a series like this, but wasn't Lenore done with Stuart and back together with Bryan in Taken 2? Given that Dougray Scott has no resemblance of any kind to the actor who played the character in the first movie (Xander Berkeley) - and how the character's personality seems totally different - I can't imagine I'll be the only one wondering what the deal is and why she's got a third husband. The funny thing is, if you wanted to, you could build some pretty good conflict around what it feels like to be the guy who just sort of stood by while your wife's ex murdered his way through the Paris and Istanbul underground when she or her daughter was threatened, but that angle never seems to occur to Besson and co-writer Robert Mark Kamen.

Full review at EFC.

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