By Jeff Labrecque
Updated January 09, 2015 at 09:30 PM EST
Daniel McFadden

Taken 3

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Former CIA agent Bryan Mills is awfully lucky to possess a very specific set of skills, because bad things keep happening to the people around him. First, his daughter (Maggie Grace) was kidnapped by Albanian sex traffickers in 2008’s Taken. Then, he and his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) fell into the same gang’s vengeful web in 2012’s sequel. With Taken 3, the guy’s horrible luck continues: someone close to him is killed and Mills is the prime suspect. So not only does he have to identify and snap the bones of the real killers, he has to elude the Los Angeles cops (led by Forest Whitaker) who are luke-warm on his trail.

“Tracking the plot of Taken 3 is more difficult than believing that the Mills family has luck this bad,” writes EW‘s Kyle Anderson. “It’d be totally reasonable if Taken 3 was simply about Neeson staying a half-step ahead of Whitaker, but instead there are a series of convoluted double-crosses involving Kim’s shady stepdad Stuart (Dougray Scott) and Russian gangster Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell).”

So it’s not Shakespeare. Or even The Fugitive. But it’s January at the multiplex, the traditional cold spell for quality film releases. Or, as it’s been retitled in recent years: Neeson Season, when the man who once played Oskar Schindler has remodeled himself a bankable action hero. See: Taken, Unknown, The Grey, and Non-Stop. Critics might be able to skip his latest, but audiences will likely line up.

Kyle Anderson (Entertainment Weekly)

“It’s a testament to Neeson’s startling charisma as an action star that for all its storytelling flaws, large swaths of Taken 3 remain wildly entertaining … [These] late-period Bronson-esque roles are the ones that really drive home what a skilled actor Neeson is. The dialogue in Taken 3 is pretty goofy sometimes, but he sells it without looking as if he’s trying too hard…”

Bilge Ebiri (New York) ▼

“The concept is lame, and the execution is lame, too … Neeson seems tired, maybe because he himself doesn’t even have that much to do, character-wise. Mills doesn’t even get to employ his particular set of skills all that much this time around…”

Peter Bradshaw (London Guardian) ▼

“Lordy! We needed Maggie Smith to come on as Lady Bracknell, jab her parasol into Liam’s chest and announce: ‘To allow your nearest and dearest to get into mortal danger twice is all very well, Mr. Neeson, but thrice looks like carelessness!'”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Working from a script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen that must have included page after page of “THEN THERE”S A BIG CAR CHASE AND THINGS GO KABLOOEY,” director Olivier Megaton shows almost no talent for pacing in the quieter scenes.”

Clarence Tsui (Hollywood Reporter) ▼

“Replacing the first two films’ simplistic, man-on-the-run premise with a stuttering plot comparatively light on action and stuffed with red herrings and inconsequential characters … Besson’s team has signed off the trilogy with a whimper rather than the kind of unfettered bang delivered by the first two films.”

Maggie Lee (Variety) ▼

“Although less graphic in its representation of violence than its predecessors, Taken 3 retains a gutsy realism in scenes where Mills matter-of-factly cracks bones and splatters brains, and the shoot-‘em-ups, car wrecks and explosions are noisier and more bombastic than ever. They’re also unimaginatively choreographed…”

Claudia Puig (USA Today)

“While this third installment offers a jot more humor (mostly unintentional), the action scenes are disjointed, badly staged and mind-numbing. Lots of chases happen, but none are exciting. The preposterous plot doesn’t even hinge on kidnapping, as it did in the first two films, so this outing hardly deserves its title.”

Alonso Duralde (The Wrap) ▼

“The idiocy and predictability of the plotting could be forgiven had Taken 3 delivered the superior action sequences that audiences would expect, but [director] Mégaton and editors Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz take every fist-fight, shoot-out and highway chase and shred them into milliseconds of mismatched visual information…”

Tom Huddleston (Time Out: London)

“Megaton‘s epileptic, herky-jerky action sequences are still frustratingly hard to follow, and there’s never a pretence that this is anything more than easy product for an undemanding audience. But in this series, average is an improvement.”

James Berardinelli (ReelViews)

“Nothing has changed. Neeson remains grim and taciturn. The action sequences, while not ascending to the preposterous, physics-defying levels of The Fast and the Furious movies, are over-the-top. And the plot, to the extent that is has any purpose at all, exists to move Neeson and his co-stars from one set piece to the next.”

Taken 3

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 31

Rotten Tomatoes: 8 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 93 minutes

Starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker

Directed by Olivier Megaton

Distributor: Fox

Taken 3

  • Movie