TAKEN 3 REVIEW

Taken-3-Movie-Poster

Taken the p*ss, more like. Hopefully it will end here.

I made the mistake of listening to a critic when the first one came out. I ended up seeing Shrooms. Remember that? If you don’t, you’re lucky. And DO NOT bother checking it out.

When I finally got round to watching the first Taken film, I was impressed. A proper action movie. Iconic dialogue, intense action sequences and a welcome return for a very talented actor. Instant cult status achieved.

The only problem with instant cult success and a shed load of money at the box office, it meant meant one thing. SEQUELS!

Taken 2 was a poor retread of the exact same story line. Only in a different city and with Maggie Grace’s irritating Kim having to save Mills. NO!

It didn’t help that the static camera work didn’t show any of the action properly and the dialogue was that hammy, I felt myself cringing.

So, here we are. Third time’s the charm? A reprieve to end the franchise with a fiery finale?

Unfortunately not. They should have left it at the first one.

The trailers piqued my interest and with Forest Whitaker taking the helm as the relentless pursuer, I had hope.

That was soon crushed after the drab opening sequence.

So what happens in this one? Ex-government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

Where to begin? It was a mess. I know! It’s an action movie. Not a thought provoking, mind bending thriller. BUT still . . .

A feeble attempt at mystery came off flat and dull as Sam Spruell’s “menacing” villain (with a ridiculous Lloyd Christmas haircut) disposed of some unknown secondary characters.

Dull, uninteresting . . . where’s Liam Neeson?

We are then pulled through some awful and incredibly cheesy exposition between Bryan and Kim. It’s obviously become a joke. BUT a joke that was never funny in the first place.

I could feel my very being sinking into the seat.

Then we had the inevitable “Will they, won’t they?” spiel with Famke Janssen and Neeson. You would have thought after all their “mishaps” (two violent kidnappings that destroyed two cities) that they would have got back together.

No, no, no. She’s gone and married another moronic businessman. Dougray Scott nailed the accent but was terrible as the suspiciously shady looking Stuart.

However, it soon kicks off. Rather predictably if you’ve seen the heavily flogged trailers with Mills set up for murder and on the run.

One thing I will commend is Eric Kress’ cinematography. A beautiful sunny Hollywood gloss over the relentless, unnecessary and OTT carnage.

Olivier Megaton really needs to fire his editing team; Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz. The action was way too fast and far too frantic.

The very sequence in which Mills must run from the scene of the crime was disorienting. One second, you’re looking at Neeson’s foot, his shadow, an angry dog and then a confused police man.

It felt like it was overcompensating for the fact that Neeson is too old.

It pains me to say that but the poor guy look jaded. Every time the sporadic shot swapping subsided, you could see he was struggling to keep up with the pace and the frantic fist fighting the film desperately tried to deliver.

He did his best to add his gruffly gravitas to this disaster but even his performance felt like a parody of his own. He doesn’t even say the iconic line properly, “I have skills. You know what I can do with them”.

To me, it felt like “You know what I’m going to say, you can fill in the blanks”.

A shame. What annoyed me even more was the fact that he suddenly breaks into a house, finds a garage containing an old truck which is conveniently hiding an escape route to the sewers that leads to Bryan’s hidden factory fortress complete in emergency supplies.

WHAAAAT?!

I thought switch off. It’s just a dumb action movie. Forest Whitaker is here. He’ll do something good.

He pretty much plays Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh from The Shield. At first glance. BUT he does absolutely nothing.

While Mills is running around aimlessly, punching people left, right and centre. Whitaker is scoffing bagels, flicking an elastic band around his wrist (for no reason) while fumbling about with a chess piece (Steady now) in his pocket, looking confused.

What a waste of a talented actor. All he does is relay the information we all know. The plot isn’t that complicated or that interesting for that matter!

In fact, it’s bloody bonkers. Mills makes more elaborate and unexplained escapes than Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes!

He escapes a car that we saw him drive down an exploding lift shaft that seemed to blow up a whole car park complex. And somehow manages to hide behind a rock despite seeing his car rammed off a cliff and rolling into a fiery blaze.

A crappy flashback makes no explanation or sense to his miraculous Houdini acts.

I also felt my loyalties divided with Mills. I used to route for the big guy BUT I felt myself scratching my head at his logic. He kills and injures dozens of coppers. He throws grenades in a school. And even causes a ridiculous police chase that was completely unnecessary.

Mills finds evidence that proves his innocence. Does he tell the police or show them? No! He lets them take him in for questioning. Changes his mind. Only to cause a highway pile up with heavily used CGI cars flying all over the place.

Time to let old dogs lie.

I think it’s time for Neeson to get back to what he did best. Acting. This affair offered no cool dialogue, no baddies of any merit, by the book action sequences with no memorable moments to recollect and . . . hammy vomit inducing exposition.

Olivier Megaton, I don’t know where you are. BUT I have a particular set of skills. If you dare make another, I will find you . . .

1.5/5

Advertisements

STARRED UP REVIEW

starred-up-uk-poster

Scum, this ain’t san. A slow hard boiled film that doesn’t deserve to be locked up and is reprieved by an unexpected brutal climax and a very talented cast.

It’s great to see low budget British films like this getting recognized and put out on the cinema circuit. We follow the incredibly volatile Eric Love (Jack Connell) as he is transferred to an adult prison and ends up in the same wing as his old man, the even more explosive Neville Love (Ben Mendelsohn). Director David Mackenzie excels at providing a grim look at the prison system. What starts as a good opener as we go through the check in procedure (strip search, etc) at the prison soon meanders along, bordering on a Porridge parody. I mean once Eric walks through one walkway, we don’t need to see several. Connell is fantastic and gives a stellar performance. His character to start with is very unlikeable as he goes out of his way to make trouble. But through his bravado and dominance, you can’t stop watching him. And once he meets his father, a fantastically creepy Mendelsohn, we soon get a better insight into Eric and see why he is the way he is. The only problem Connell has always excelled at playing the hard man. You can only worry that he will be type cast but if he plays the part so well, does it matter.

Starred Up is gritty, violent, at times brutal but beneath that, Mackenzie does try and make a statement about young offenders and the inner workings of the prison, providing an all too realistic insight. This is demonstrated perfectly in the “anger management” class sessions led by posho volunteer Oliver (another stand out performance from Rupert Friend – Quinn from Homeland). His unique style and questionable motives make for good viewing as he desperately tries to help the offenders, a well acted bunch of British bandits; David Ajala, Anthony Welsh, David Avery, Ashley Chin and Gershwyn Eustache Jnr. This is where the film stood out from all the usual Scum spiel that has been ripped off endlessly. Eric’s erratic behaviour is crazy, at times brutal and at one point, hilarious. But once he flies off the handle, the more times he does it and effs and blinds with some (granted) memorable quotes, it gets irritating but that is the point. That is why he is here. The sessions allow us to see his vulnerability and makes for some great moments and banter as he bonds with the class.

As we delve deeper into the prison, you see that not even the powers that be are any better. Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker) and Sian Breckin (recently featured in BBC’s Truckers) playing the shifty governors working and undoing Oliver’s work. However, where it excels in violence, testosterone, good characters and great acting, the film lacks in pace and stutters along. The hype helps draw attention but the first hour doesn’t justify it for me. However, the last half hour makes for crucial watching and redeems a film that was starting to lose my attention and questioned whether this should have been put on FilmFour as one of their TV movie premieres. However, it all seemed to be brewing up for one big climax (steady now) that is brilliantly done, compelling and endearing. All in all, a mixed bag but one of the better ones. The best prison film? Not for me san. But certainly not the worst. Mackenzie is definitely going to be one to watch for me now. 3.5/5

Currently ranks #48 out of 155!