Taken Trilogy review: How does the series measure up as a whole?

Posted on 11 January 2015
By George Heron
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Liam Neeson returns to the silver screen as Bryan Mills, a man with the “particular set of skills” in Taken 3. After watching the first film you wouldn’t think that a sequel would be required, nevermind a trilogy. Film studios are always going to try to replicate success in some way, aren’t they?

In the first film back in 2008, we are introduced to Bryan as a man who neglected his family due to his job and has subsequently lost them. He has quit his job and moved to where his estranged family lives, endeavouring to be there mainly for his daughter, Kim, played by Maggie Grace who can be also seen in the final Twilight movies Breaking Dawn Part One and Two.

The first half an hour of every film consists of Bryan interacting with his family and friends and if you watch the whole trilogy back-to-back you will notice yourself how there is a common formula running through each one. Even from the opening credits where there is some flashy editing of the city where the majority of the film is based.

Once something goes wrong (the title is a clue), the plot goes up a gear into non-stop action mode. Expect lots of absurd events that happen so fast you don’t have time to question them as the next action scene comes along before you know it. No time to hold your breath whilst watching a Taken film.

The basic premise of someone being abducted is given a twist for the third one. I shan’t spoil it. There are some further twists as Bryan tries to work out who’s done what, making it feel a little fresher despite the blatant formula still being enforced.

If you stop for one second to question what is happening, it’s over for you. You may as well walk out the cinema and get back to your Paul Thomas Anderson collection.

After watching it a few times, I started thinking about the first film where Liam Neeson gives a speech about how he would come for, find and kill his daughter’s kidnappers, the terrorist taking the time to listen.

Why would he do that? Surely he’d be in a rush to get out after the now successful abduction of the women? He would have destroyed the phone the minute he saw it. Don’t get me started on the use of grenades in Taken 2. Ridiculous.

The person that is holding this all together and making it worth your while is Liam Neeson. He has cornered his own niche in the action hero genre with other films, such as Unknown, The Grey and more recently, a Walk Among The Tombstones.

He is such a likeable lead with some great one-liners (it’s still a great speech even though he shouldn’t have been given a chance to say it) and is an impressive, clinical fighter.

As you go through the films, you know he is going to get his way in the end because of his incredible (some would say incredulous) skills but you keep watching to see how he does it.

His devotion to his family, to save them no matter the cost is something we should all aspire to when trying to protect our loved ones. Something we’d all like to think we would do if put in the same position.

The third installation also benefits from a strong antagonist in Forrest Whittaker. Yeah, he’s reprising his role from The Shield as an eccentric but tenacious detective (this time fixated with elastic bands and bagels as opposed to chewing gum) who relentlessly pursues his quarry. It adds a further element of cat and mouse into the mix. And some great acting.

It’s good to see that both Neeson and director, Megaton (not Megatron) have both acknowledged they have taken (no pun intended) the series as far as it can go and have brought things to a satisfying conclusion.

At the least, it is on a par with the first film and is better than the second. If you likes your action films, I would highly recommend the Taken trilogy for your perusal. See if you can spot the guy from Downton Abbey in the second ‘un.