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TAKEN 3

SYNOPSIS: Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), an ex-government operative is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed as he is tracked and pursued, Bryan Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

Review by Louise Keller:
Cars pirouette, spin, flip and are crushed in a dramatic freeway car chase, while a nail-biting sequence involving a small plane and a black Porsche makes hearts stop. Incredible plot aside, the charismatic presence of Liam Neeson and his impenetrable sense of decency carry the film way beyond its thrilling action sequences.

Protecting his family at all costs is the first priority of Neeson's Bryan Mills and in a clever twist on the plot of the two previous films of the franchise, screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen have devised a premise in which Mills is set up for a crime he didn't commit, before spending the rest of the film proving he didn't do it. It may play out predictably, but it's a winning formula: non stop action, a plot with some surprises and an enigmatic central hero imbued with courage and decency. It's a shame that director Olivier Megaton continues his approach of super quick edits and shaky hand-held camera work during the lengthy, frenetic action sequences.

After an attention grabbing opening, leaving us with no doubt that the Russian mobsters mean business, the film concentrates on re-establishing the central characters and their close relationships. The giant stuffed panda birthday gift for grown up daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) may not be the brightest idea for father daughter establishment, but Neeson's likeability allows us to forgive little script absurdities. And of course, we are quick to be reminded of his close relationship with ex-wife Lenore (Fake Janssen), who admits to fantasizing about Mills while still being married to Stuart (Dougray Scott). Mills clearly reciprocates her lust but is too decent to do anything about it.

The plot, involving the Russian undesirables and a deal that goes wrong gets cracking quickly and as Mills sets out to clear his name and find the killer, we delight in his being one small step ahead of the police, who are in close pursuit. Technology plays a big part here. Forest Whitaker's police inspector is supposedly as smart as Mills, trying to double guess his every move, but in the end he is a bit of a ham as he clutches a wooden chess piece in one hand, plays with a rubber band and chomps into warm bagels at the crime scene. 'He isn't dangerous,' he muses when talking about Mills. 'It's the world he lives in.' Not quite Colombo, but you get my drift.

It's all about Neeson and he excels as the former government operative with special skills, who knows how to disappear at will. Grace is excellent as his screen daughter Kim with her own personal issues and it's easy to dislike Scott as Lenore's wealthy second husband. As for the badass Russian mobsters, they are reliably nasty with bigwig Sam Spruell wearing his Y-fronts in the tense, bullet-riddled shoot out scene at the plush Malibu penthouse. The cleaning up bill must have been huge!

It's a good way to close the franchise - assuming this is the final chapter. It's a bit of a guilty pleasure bang bang movie with Neeson up front and centre.

The opening credits put me right in the mood: great use of aerial night shots of LA skyscrapers, nicely edited to the syncopated jazz score. The result is edgy and intriguing.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TAKEN 3 (M)
(US, 2015)

CAST: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Jenssen, Al Sapienza, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott, Johnny Weston, Leland Orser, John Gries, Judi Beecher

PRODUCER: Luc Besson

DIRECTOR: Olivier Megaton

SCRIPT: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Kress

EDITOR: Audrey Simonaud, Nicolas Trembasiewicz

MUSIC: Nathaniel Mechaly

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Sebastian Inizan

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 8, 2015







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