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Siraj Syed


Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 

 

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Taken 3, Review: Haven 3--End of the road for fugitive Mills Kills

Taken 3, Review: Haven 3--End of the road for fugitive Mills Kills

Liam Neeson returns as ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills in Taken 3, aka Tak3n (no spell-check required), the latest film in the vengeance-driven action franchise. Once again, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and her mother Lenore, Mills’ separated wife (Famke Janssen), now married to Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott) are in peril. Lenore is found dead in Mills’ home, with her throat slit, and Mills holding a knife. Obviously, Mills is being framed for the murder. But by who? And why? He will have to evade arrest, take refuge in a safe haven and settle the score, but not before cars fly around at 100 mph, crash into each other a 1,000 times, and 10,000 bullets are sprayed in multiple locations, often to kill just one man.

Taken 3 begins with stylish credit titles, a modern look and pulsating music. Then, it goes on to weave in every possible element that can be employed to strike a chord. The car chases and crashes are part of this game-plan. So are the family moments, the doting father, the pregnant daughter who is still at school, the about to reconcile divorcees, the reckless gambler who runs up huge debts and faces a death squad, the hero who has a bunch of friends who never desert him, especially in times of crises, the cat and mouse game between regular cops and an ex CIA hard-nut, a super smart police detective who, in another eon, would have been Hercule Poirot, but is here as a late starter, fond of eating and mumbling, and so on. There is also a more than obvious tribute to The Fugitive in the way the plot unfolds.

Olivier Megaton is back in the director’s chair for the latest film in the trilogy, hatched by Luc Besson’s Europa Corp. Megaton directed the second film too. Taken 1, directed by Pierre Morel, and 2, by Megaton, made some really big dollars, a possibility that is highly unlikely with the third outing. This one strikes too many false notes and the screenplay, Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (the two joined hands in The Professional, The Fifth Element and Colombiana) is contrived, to say the least. Besson and Kamen wrote both the earlier ventures too, while Kamen has separately worked on The Karate Kid and the Transporter series. A few of the car chase shots, particularly one in which a tanker gets detached from the truck and crushes car after car, are engaging.

Liam Neeson appears to go through the grind with a pained expression, and reportedly needed a huge pay packet to get convinced about doing this one. He was reluctant even the second time around. Now, surely, he must be allowed to live in peace, and the series must end. He would be 65 if there is a Taken 4, and that would have taken it too far. Whitaker (Bird, The Butler, The Last King of Scotland) as Inspector Franck Dotzler is slightly amusing but largely unconvincing. With the footage he has, he is given pretty little to do. Famke Janssen and Maggie Grace reprise their roles, adding nothing to their dimensions. Dougray Scott (The Ten Commandments, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, My Week With Marilyn) gets to convey several shades of character and emotes well. Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker, Snow White and the Huntsman) fits into the role of Russian Mafia don Oleg Malankov with ease, except for the climax, when he and Neeson confront each other in a glass-walled penthouse flat, replete with a swimming pool and curvy molls. Neeson too is amateurish going through the mindless mayhem, but don’t blame the actors for poor writing. There is also a detailed explanation of the secrets and suspense in a dialogue piece at the end, which would have been welcome in many films that leave their knots tied, only there was no suspense and secret to unravel in the first place, except one little twist. And without that twist, Taken 3 would have plummeted further.

Rating: **

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuU0M2xBasc

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


Bandra West, Mumbai

India



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