Year 8, Day 147 - 5/26/16 - Movie #2,346
BEFORE: Liam Neeson carries over for the last time, and as you see, I had no shortage of options for Father's Day films - "Boyhood" would have been another acceptable choice, and the whole impetus in the "Taken" films is a man protecting his daughter, so this would have qualified also. And I'm planning to watch another film this weekend that's all about a father - so, it's kind of a month-long build-up to Father's Day this year. I should probably make plans to go up to Massachusetts and visit my own dad, sometime between his birthday and June 19.
FOLLOW-UP TO: "Taken 2" (Movie #1,913)
THE PLOT: Ex-government operative Bryan Mills 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.
AFTER: I'm tying a lot of recent themes together with this one - we've got the ex-special agent (as in "The Equalizer") who gets framed for murder ("American Gigolo", "Lost Highway") so he has to go on the run ("Run All Night") while trying to figure who the real murderer is ("A Walk Among the Tombstones") and this puts him in conflict with Russian mobsters ("The Equalizer" again) who were once part of the Russian military ("Enemy at the Gates" and "K-19: The Widowmaker"). Plus there's a lot of that close-contact fighting that I've seen in so many movies lately, like "Batman v Superman" and "John Wick" and "Kingsman: The Secret Service". Definitely a trend.
But all that is not why the film feels familiar - it's probably because the plot is cribbed straight from "The Fugitive", right down to the professional lawman (police in this case, not U.S. marshal) who has to track him down, even though he believes that he's probably innocent. The only difference seems to be that in that Harrison Ford movie, Dr. Kimble was a relative novice at living on the lam, but here we can just count it as another one of Bryan Mills' "special skills" - hey, it rhymes, Bryan Mills with the particular set of skills.
Watching a "Taken" film is like waiting for the other shoe to drop, there can be moments where our hero's life seem to be going well, maybe his ex-wife wants to reconcile, or maybe his daughter has some good news to share with him, but you just know this is a temporary respite in his life, and there's a whole bunch of bad news just around the corner. Surprisingly, the situation here does not seem to be a reprisal for his actions in "Taken 2", which were a direct result of him punishing the men who kidnapped his daughter in "Taken". The filmmakers realized that if they kept the cycle going, it was never going to end - each villain would always have a brother or a cousin that would want revenge.
They went a different way with it this time, which is about the only thing that feels original here. Still, nothing explains why a man who knows that he is innocent doesn't surrender to the police and answer their questions. If he were guilty, there would be plenty of physical evidence to support that, and likewise since he's innocent, there should be little or none. So why not let the police do their job, and stand on his otherwise spotless record, and not run away from the cops. Newsflash, if you run, you look guilty!
But I get it, he believes in his own special skills more than he believes in the police, and in fact he gets halfway into his investigation before the cops even catch up with him. But then there's about a half-hour break in the film where he has to go through a lot of trouble just to get a message to his daughter, and this feels like killing time. Hello, there's a killer on the loose, and he's wasting precious time - and this also makes him look more guilty, because an innocent man would get right on the hunt, because the ONE thing he knows is that he didn't do it.
Also starring Forest Whitaker (last seen in "Body Snatchers"), Famke Janssen (last seen in "Don't Say a Word"), Maggie Grace (last seen in "Taken 2"), Leland Orser (ditto), Dougray Scott (last seen in "My Week With Marilyn"), Sam Spruell (also carrying over from "K-19: The Widowmaker"), David Warshofsky (also last seen in "Don't Say a Word"), Don Harvey (last seen in "Noah"), Dylan Bruno, Andrew Howard.
RATING: 5 out of 10 camera angles (of the SAME explosion!)