Action Blu-ray Review

'Taken 3' Blu-ray Review: Has the action franchise been taken too far?

April 28, 2015Ben MK

Official Studio Synopsis: The hunter becomes the hunted when Liam Neeson returns as former CIA operative Bryan Mills, who finds himself framed for the brutal murder of his ex-wife (Famke Janssen). Consumed with rage, and pursued by a savvy police inspector (Forest Whitaker), Mills must rely on his "particular set of skills" one last time to find the real killers, clear his name, and protect the only thing that matters to him now — his daughter (Maggie Grace).

Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Format: Blu-ray/Digital Copy
Video: 1080p Widescreen 2.39:1
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 5.1 (Theatrical Version Only), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Français Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 109 Mins. (Theatrical Version) / 115 Mins. (Unrated Version)
Feature Rating:  

The original Taken was something of a phenomenon. Coming from first-time director Pierre Morel and co-writer Luc Besson, the film took Liam Neeson, an actor best known up until that point for his dramatic roles, and transformed him into an unlikely action superstar. It's no wonder the now-62-year-old has returned to the franchise not once, but twice. Both Taken and Taken 2 saw his character, retired (but extremely dangerous) CIA operative Bryan Mills, going after the bad guys — first in Paris, then in Istanbul — for the sake of protecting his family. Now, in Taken 3, Taken 2 director Olivier Megaton concludes the series by bringing the action stateside — to Los Angeles — where Bryan will face his most personal fight yet.

The movie revolves around the death of Bryan's ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen). Framed for her murder, Bryan must go on the run, trying not only to elude the L.A.P.D. and stay one step ahead of the case's relentless lead investigator, Sergeant Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), but also contending with a ruthless gang of Russian criminals, led by the vicious Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell), as he attempts to uncover the real culprit behind the crime. Along the way, Bryan is once again aided by his inner circle of ex-military-type friends — Sam (Leland Orser), Bernie (David Warshofsky) and Casey (Jon Gries) — who provide their own "particular set of skills" to help him protect the only family he has left, his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). But will it be enough to enable Bryan to prove his innocence and bring the perpetrators to justice? If you've seen either of the first two films, you already know the answer.

Perhaps it's unreasonable to think that the third film in any franchise could be anything other than formulaic. Sadly, however, predictability is the name of the game when it comes to Taken 3's storyline. Although screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen attempt to buck the series' tried-and-true formula — going instead with a plotline very much reminiscent of The Fugitive — the end result is plagued with action-thriller clichés most viewers will be able to spot from a mile away. Then there's the murder mystery that's supposed to propel the action forward. Simply put, the script doesn't introduce enough suspects to keep audiences guessing, making it far too easy to deduce the real culprit's identity early on. Make no mistake, Taken 3 does do a commendable job delivering the requisite amount of gunplay and mano e mano brawling — but if it's not accompanied by a compelling narrative, what's the point?

Audio/Visual Rating:  

As mediocre as the film itself is, Taken 3 looks spectacular on Blu-ray. Even though the hazy L.A. skyline proves considerably less picturesque than the cityscapes of Paris and Istanbul, the hi-def picture quality is nothing short of top-notch, sporting razor sharp image detail beneath a layer of visible film grain. At the same time, color reproduction is excellent, with bold blacks and well-balanced contrast levels that compliment the stylized visuals of cinematographer Eric Kress. It's much the same story audio-wise, even though the film's sound design is strangely subdued overall. Nonetheless, the movie's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack excels at delivering all the obligatory action atmospherics, from the sound of automatic gunfire, to a massive explosion in a parking garage elevator shaft, to the familiar score by series composer Nathaniel Méchaly.

Extras Rating:  

Fox’s one-disc release includes both 109-minute theatrical and 115-minute unrated versions of the movie, an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, plus the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scene - "Flashback Malankov " (7:16) - A longer, less-stylized version of what is shown in the movie, this sequence provides visual evidence as to what a badass the story's Russian crimelord, Oleg Malankov, is. Be forewarned if you have yet to watch the movie, though, as a substantial spoiler lurks within.
  • Sam's Bunker A.K.A. The Rabbit Hole (3:01) - A virtual walkthrough of Bryan's underground hideout — and all the items within it — narrated by Leland Orser, in character as Bryan's friend, Sam.
  • Taken to L.A. (4:16) - A fairly brief featurette that touches on the movie's Los Angeles setting, shooting in Atlanta, Paris and Spain to resemble L.A., filming in 35mm anamorphic, and staging the story's freeway chase sequence.
  • A Taken Legacy (4:54) - Somewhat of a retrospective piece that looks back on the Taken franchise, and how this third film differs from the two that have come before it.
  • Gallery (1:05) - A series of twelve production stills from the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:15)

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