By Darren Chan Keng Leong (Singapore)
Note: Minor Spoilers!
Liam Neeson who plays Bryan Mills reprises his character in the last instalment of the Taken trilogy, Taken 3. After following the journey of Bryan Mills in saving his family in Taken and Taken 2, I was expecting a fitting conclusion to the beloved action family hero but was left feeling slightly disappointed.
The film opens with Bryan Mills buying his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) a birthday present and visiting her to wish her a happy birthday as Bryan is very close to Kim as her father. Unknown to Bryan, Kim is pregnant and as she is afraid that the sudden news would upset her father, therefore she chooses to keep the news from her father at first.
Lenore (Famke Janssen), Bryan’s ex-wife visits Bryan and wants to rekindle her relationship with him due to him saving her and her daughter’s life in the previous films and also that her relationship with her present husband, Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott) is on the rocks. Things intensify when Stuart pays Bryan a visit and firmly warns him to stay away from Lenore which Bryan agrees.
The news just keeps getting worse for Bryan when his ex-wife Lenore is apparently killed by someone when he visits her upon receiving an urgent text message from her. Having to face the reality that his ex-wife is dead devastates Bryan but also puts him on the radar of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to arrest Bryan on the suspicion of Lenore’s murder. As the prime suspect of the murder, Bryan outsmarts the LAPD with his acquired skills and is on the run throughout the film.
Liam Neeson lives up to his reputation of that aging action star from the previous Taken films and delivers his lines with the same menace and authority of a protective family man who will never let anyone who harms his family get off lightly. However, as Taken 3 progresses, Liam Neeson’s performance as Bryan Mills gets tired and exhaustive as nothing seems to faze the character which shows that he is formidable and rarely gets injured at all despite the on-going firepower. I felt that the protagonists in the film did not present a threat to Liam’s character.
The director of the Taken trilogy Olivier Megaton improved the character development of Bryan Mills by making him use his skills in-depth as he goes around solving the mystery behind his wife’s death and tracks down those responsible for it. The film is better developed in terms of storyline as it shows how Bryan outwits both the law enforcement team and the villains which is a refreshed formula from the previous Taken films.
Bryan’s daughter Kim also plays a larger role in this film as she assists her father in finding the murderer that is connected to the death of Lenore. The father and daughter connection in the film is of great prominence and importance in establishing that family is the only aspect of life worth fighting for. Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) adds a tinge of light-heartedness and a sense of analytical skills in deciphering Bryan’s movement and actions in trying to apprehend him but he is always one step behind of Bryan which is frustrating to watch, I was expecting a small confrontation scene between the two of them which would have been satisfactory indeed.
The ending of the film left me disappointed as it was an anti-climactic finish to a great action trilogy with Liam Neeson delivering another spectacular performance as Bryan Mills. It was a predictable end which left me wondering that it is best that the film ended here as it was growing repetitive and tired in terms of re-imaging the characters to draw audiences who want more than just sitting through action scenes that does not put the lead character in any form of predictable danger.
I would have liked if he said something similar to that in Taken: “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.” This famous phrase propelled Liam Neeson into the limelight of being that cool-dad that you wished you had growing up.
The film does not feel like the end of the franchise as Bryan Mills did not end the life of the main antagonist but chose to let him live, meaning leaving the door open for more opportunities for Bryan to return again. But if the film does perform exceptionally well, Liam Neeson could consider reprise his role to a prequel of Taken which would see him and his friends in Taken 3 when they were much younger and to explore their back stories to create more opportunities for more characters to be integrated in the Taken film franchise.
Taken 3 is definitely one of the movies in the month of January to watch if you have to watch the previous Taken films as it serves as an end to one of Liam Neeson’s performance as one of our beloved movie stars who had a huge following after the first Taken film in 2008.