Taken 3

By Tim McEown

Mailed on January 12, 2015

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Dear Vodka
Experience Augmenter

Dear Vodka,

Hello, old friend. As you know, I’m usually the most responsible of people. I rarely overindulge or miss deadlines. I am never late for work and feel strongly that something worth doing is worth doing well.


After having seen the trailer for Taken 3 I knew I was going to need some help. And you, sweet delicious nectar of the potato, were there for me. You helped me endure – and even enjoy – a savagely indifferent film that has, in this third installment, become a parody of itself. The Taken franchise has now out-Verhoevened Verhoeven in its contempt for both genre and its audience. It isn’t even campy. It has surpassed camp and taken up residence in some critical space I wouldn’t be able to access were it not for you, my clear-hued, odorless companion.

When my wife and I were ushered into the VIP theatre and placed our order (she had the Mac and Cheese bites, and I purchased a small river of you), I felt adequately prepared. And thank sweet heaven I was, because the next 109 minutes were filled with a kind of inanity that I can only describe as surreal. I do remember Dougray Scott doing a hilarious Christopher Walken read of his character and I do remember Liam Neeson killing any number of people who were trying to kill him. And, in between all that, I do recall some stuff that looked like someone who was drunker than I was had shot it.

Please believe me, I take this reviewing stuff seriously. I usually wouldn’t dream of you and I hooking up while I was trying to work. Normally I can also find a decent thing or two to say about a mediocre film. But Taken 3 is the apex of cinema as product. There is literally not a moment of suspense or cleverness in the entire film. And the only thing I enjoyed at all was Sarah’s sotto voce recapitulation of the Walkenesque stylings of Dougray Scott. In fact, the only thing that could have saved this film would have been a MST3K overdub.

And you, of course.

You made it possible for me to find my way into the murky plot; something about Neeson’s character – the eminently skilled, at least in particular ways, Brian Mills – being framed for his ex’s murder (Famke Janssen manages to make her escape fairly early), and Mills’ pregnant daughter struggling to make sense of her mother’s murder and her father’s fugitive status. A circumstance which the film treats as if she had flunked a college course (or something equally inconvenient), but certainly not tragic. The whole film is so casually sloppy that I kept waiting for some meta plot turn; Neeson turning to the camera, giving us shit for wasting our time, then dropping the mic and walking off-screen.

That would have been awesome, actually. Unfortunately it only happened in my head. The rest of the film reminded me of the later works of Steven Seagal—the ones in which he’s so fat that he has to fight while sitting in a chair. When Taken 3 finally ended in the most flippant, casual way possible, you could hear the whole theatre snigger.

Oh I almost forgot: Forest Whitaker, in an attempt to lend some depth to his cartoonishly thin character, had an elastic band wrapped around his wrist. He would snap it every time he was frustrated by Neeson and his amazing capacity for escaping citywide manhunts while simultaneously leaving a conspicuous trail of corpses. That elastic was an anger management tool that they should have handed everyone as they entered the theatre.

That, and a quart of your lovely essence.



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