An AFI Fest 2015 report on "The Big Short" and the Q&A that followed with the filmmakers and stars. After racking up a daunting body count in both France ("Taken") and Turkey ("Taken 2"), the destructive Mills family (who really should consider going into the witness protection program, not only for their own safety, but for ours) turn their sights on the sunny freeways of their home town, Los Angeles, in "Taken 3".
I suppose the second kidnapping was necessary in "Taken 2," which stars Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen in a pumped-up sequel to "Taken" (2008).
Starting with the unimaginative (and, as it happens, incorrect) title, "Taken 3," directed by Oliver Megaton, is both lazy and tremendously overwrought. You will receive a weekly newsletter full of movie-related tidbits, articles, trailers, even the occasional streamable movie. They say that the family that's kidnapped together, stays together and a whole lotta bonding will go on after this one.
Anchored, as always, by a sincere performance by Liam Neeson, as well as the additional gravitas provided by Forest Whitaker as the police officer tracking Neeson down, the film pulses with indifference. He is against Kim spending the summer in Paris with her girlfriend, even though "cousins" will apparently chaperone. You don't need to have seen the first film to follow this one, which opens with touching scenes between ex-CIA man Bryan Mills (Neeson) and his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen, who is seriously beautiful here). Lenore's new husband has proven to be a no-good rat, and some energy flows between her and Bryan, the father of their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).
Many didn't care for the sequel, but I liked it a lot, especially the cinematic use of the architecture in Istanbul, which showed a real understanding for how action happening in a very specific landscape can be exciting and suspenseful.
Kim and her pal succeed in getting themselves kidnapped the afternoon of the same day they get off the plane, although Kim has time for one terrified phone call to Dad before she's taken away.Now listen to this.


Using CIA contacts at Langley, Mills is able to use his garbled tape of their conversation to determine the name of his girl's kidnapper (Marko), that he is Albanian, that his ring kidnaps young tourists, drugs them and runs them as prostitutes; the virgins are auctioned off to Arab sheiks and so on.
He's only a stone's throw from Albania, where the film opens with a funeral of Mills' victims from the first "Taken." I have long complained that action pictures leave dozens of dead bodies behind and unaccounted for. Headquarters also tells Mills he has 96 hours to rescue his daughter before she meets a fate worse than death, followed by death.With this kind of intelligence, the CIA could be using bin Laden's Visa card in every ATM in Virginia. Now we see that Mills killed so many bad guys in the first film that a transport plane is needed to airlift their bodies home, and a mass burial is required to dispose of them.The chief mourner is Murad Krasniqi (the dependably evil Rade Sherbedgia), whose son was among the victims.
It's the set-up for a completely unbelievable action picture where Mills is given the opportunity to use one element of CIA spycraft after another, read his enemies' minds, eavesdrop on their telephones, spy on their meetings and, when necessary, defeat roomfuls of them in armed combat.
Never mind that the lad specialized in kidnapping young tourists and making them sex slaves. How this man and his daughter could hope to leave France on a commercial flight doesn't speak highly of the French police -- and the new "Pink Panther" doesn't open for a week.
This leads to Lenore being left hanging by chains, upside down in a warehouse, while Mills is chained to a pipe in the same room.
Krasniqi, having made a precise slit in Leonore's throat, kindly explains that because the blood will flow to her head, she won't bleed to death right away.
To provide the movie with a handy deadline, that's why.It's always a puzzle to review a movie like this. Liam Neeson brings the character a hard-edged, mercilessly focused anger, and director Pierre Morel hurtles through action sequences at a breathless velocity.
This is because Mills, apparently the most brilliant graduate in CIA history, manages to call his daughter for help and lead her through a complex process of using a shoestring and a map to figure out where he and Lenore are being held.


If Kim is an empty-headed twit, well, she's offscreen most of the time, and the villains are walking showcases for testosterone gone bad. What Kim does to save them may inspire some disbelieving laughter from the audience, but man, oh, man, that girl has pluck, and can outrun the terrorists and the Turkish cops, despite having failed two driver's license exams."Taken 2" is slick, professional action, directed by Olivier Megaton. The only tiny glitch is that if one chase scene doesn't use the same ramp down to a construction site that the opening of "Quantum of Solace" did, it sure looks like it does."Taken" reopens a question I've had. A lot of movies involve secret clubs or covens of rich white men who meet for the purposes of despoiling innocent women in despicable perversity. It was produced and co-written by Luc Besson, the French master of thrillers, and Robert Mark Kamen, his writing partner on many films. The men are usually dressed in elegant formalwear, smoke cigars and have champagne poured for them by discreet servants. The first "Taken" was made for $22 million and grossed 10 times that much, establishing Liam Neeson as an action star after a career spent in heavyweight roles.
The cast is uniformly capable and dead serious, and if you're buying what Luc Besson is selling, he's not short-changing you. The bottom line is, if you can't wait for the next "Bourne" thriller, well, you don't have to. I can easily wait, but Truth in Reviewing compels me to confess that if the movie I was describing in the first paragraph sounded as if you'd like this, you probably will.



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