In ‘Taken 3,’ trouble comes home for Bryan Mills

For former government operative Bryan Mills, his ex-wife Lenore and his daughter Kim, family therapy comes in the form of mortal peril — kidnappings, chases and fatal violence. As much as he tries to be a divorced father and toe the line of being an ex-husband, Mills (Liam Neeson) stumbles along. Then trouble arrives and he is back in his element — but the stakes are high with Lenore and Kim in the line of fire.

After the traumatic events of “Taken” and “Taken 2,” one cannot blame Mills for wanting to stay anchored in the United States, away from human traffickers in Paris and avenging fathers of dead human traffickers in Istanbul. Unfortunately, Mills and his loved ones cannot escape bad things even at home.

The screenwriting team of Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen are back for their third installment of life with Bryan Mills, while Olivier Megaton is directing his second film of the “Taken” series.

Like its predecessors, “Taken 3” spends some of its early moments focusing on Bryan’s relationship with Kim (Maggie Grace) and Lenore (Famke Janssen). Bryan and Kim have overcome some of the alienation that plagued them in the original “Taken,” but she still teases him for being “predictable.” She also cannot work up the courage to discuss some personal issues with her father. Meanwhile, Lenore’s marriage to Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott, taking over the role from Xander Berkeley) is hitting some rough patches and she turns to Bryan to vent.

Once the family update is complete, the anticipated action finally begins. Bryan suddenly finds himself a suspect in a brutal — and very personal — murder he did not commit. Obviously framed, he transforms into his operative mode, escapes arrest and goes underground.

Fortunately, he has his colleagues like Bernie (David Warshofsky), Casey (Jon Gries) and particularly Sam (Leland Orser) to assist him.

Leading the police investigation is Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), who upon finding out more about Bryan Mills realizes he will not have an easy time tracking this man down.

While Bryan plays cat and mouse with Dotzler and his squad, he also needs to find out who committed the murder and is trying to frame him.

The hardest working people on the film crew, other than the stunt people, had to be the film editing team of Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz, who pieced together all the action scenes. The quick cuts — unfortunately a staple of these kinds of movies — have a jerky and dizzying effect and are hard to follow.

As Bryan continually eludes the police and gets closer to discovering the truth, the plot twists really are not that surprising. The only question is how Bryan will resolve the situation.

Per usual, Neeson continues to build on his recent evolution into an action star, although at age 62 he inevitably will have to slow down. Grace as Kim does not get to do as much in “Taken 3” as she did in “Taken 2” except snarl at the police officers pursuing her dad.

Whitaker’s Dotzler is one of the high points in the film. His quirky habit is having a rubber band around his wrist that he pulls and twists as he contemplates the case and meets repeated frustration in his attempts to bring Bryan to justice. Dotzler is smart and honorable, soon developing a respect for Bryan’s resourcefulness.

“Taken 3” is a cookie cutter action flick, pure guilty pleasure. It is lifted by Neeson’s Bryan Mills, a man who can survive under the gun but has his emotional vulnerabilities. Some promotional teasers have stated this will be the last in the “Taken” series. Of course, that really depends on how well this one does at the box office. But it would be nice if Besson and Kamen would give Bryan Mills a break and allow him a quiet, violence-free old age.

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