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By Tom Clift
January 05, 2015
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By Tom Clift
January 05, 2015
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Liam Neeson is back, along with a very particular set of skills that he'll use to separate film-goers from their money.

The third film in the Luc Besson-produced action series, Taken 3 once again sees ex-special forces operative Bryan Mills wreak havoc on a group of Eastern European gangsters, all in the name of protecting his wife and daughter. To their minimal credit, screenwriters Besson and Robert Mark Kamen at least try to break the mould a little, inasmuch as Taken 3 doesn't feel like a carbon copy of the original as the second movie did. Even so, there's no forgiving their tin-eared dialogue and wafer-thin storyline, not to mention the fact that director Olivier Megaton still doesn't know how to frame or edit an action scene.

Not that that last point necessarily matters as much as you'd think, given that, for what is supposedly an action movie, Taken 3 contains very little action. Most of the first act is instead dedicated to Mills bumbling through a series of family problems, first botching a birthday gift to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and then providing marriage counselling to his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Jensen), whose marriage to rich dickhead Stuart (Dougray Scott) is on the rocks. Say what you will about his skull-shattering prowess; as an actual father and husband, this guy kind of blows.

Luckily, he doesn't have to worry about that for long, because before you can say "cheap plot device", someone comes along and cuts Lenore's throat. Even worse, they frame poor old Bryan for the murder. The rest of film sees him running around Los Angeles in pursuit of the actual killers, while at the same time avoiding capture by LAPD Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) — a cop whose habit of constantly fiddling with a chess piece is meant to paint him as some kind of eccentric investigative genius, despite the fact that he basically spends the whole movie at least three steps behind his suspect.

Of course stupid and/or lazy writing wouldn't be so much of a problem if the film supplied us with decent action — after all, just look at John Wick. Yet despite this being Megaton's fifth time behind the wheel of a shoot-'em-up actioner, his execution of the film's chase and shootout sequences can only be described as incompetent. Flailing handheld camerawork, frantic over-editing and claustrophobic close-ups make it basically impossible to distinguish Miles from his enemies, or to decipher the geography of a given scene. It's ugly, frustrating and totally lacking in tension, and makes the film’s scant 93-minute runtime feel a good fifteen minutes too long.

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