Taken 3 - Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills

With the third entry in the wildly successful Taken franchise, producer Luc Besson and director Oliver Megaton appear to have forgotten what made the earlier movies such guilty-pleasure hits.

Liam Neeson’s ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills didn’t thrill viewers because he was a doting dad and loyal ex-husband. What turned Neeson into an unlikely middle-aged action hero was his character’s prowess at despatching bands of slimy heavily accented foes.

Taken 3 - Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills & Maggie Grace as Kim

For Taken 3, though, the filmmakers think it necessary to saddle Bryan with some tiresomely soapy drama involving his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) before they allow him to dust off his black-ops skill set and lay waste to any shifty foreigners. And that only happens after a corpse turns up in his Los Angeles apartment and he ends up framed for murder.

Going on the run to clear his name and nab the true perpetrators, he evades the combined forces of the CIA, FBI and LAPD with such ease that the film never generates any real suspense. Indeed, despite hair’s breadth escapes from storm drains and exploding cars, there’s more tension in the elastic band being twiddled at intervals (along with a solitary chess piece: a knight, natch) by Forest Whitaker’s chief investigating cop than there is in the film itself.

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Certificate 12A. Runtime 109 mins. Director Oliver Megaton.

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