Archive for the ‘Olivier Megaton’ Category

No Messing with Mills

Taken 3

taken_three_ver2

Director: Olivier Megaton

Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Forest Whitaker, Sam Spruell, Don Harvey

Oscar Nominee for Schindler’s List Liam Neeson reprises his role as ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills in the third installment of the hugely successful Taken franchise. French director Olivier Megaton with a script by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, Taken 3 does not disappoint as a gritty muscular and tenacious thriller aimed for the 35 plus age group.

The first film Taken was set in Paris and the second film was set in Istanbul and now Taken 3 sees the much blighted Mills family in their home city of Los Angeles.

When Mill’s ex-wife Leonore St John played by Famke Janssen is mysteriously murdered, he is framed for the crime. Not wanting to becoming a guest of the LAPD, Miller ingeniously escapes from the police and goes on a vicious quest to find out who really killed his ex-wife and mother of his beloved daughter Kim played by Maggie Grace, who was the victim of a kidnapping in Taken and nearly sold into the sordid sex trade of Paris.

As the intricate plot of Taken 3 unfolds, it is revealed that Leonore’s relationship with her estranged and slimy husband Stuart St John played by Dougray Scott (Ripley’s Game, Mission Impossible 2) is not what it appears. St John owes large amounts of cash to the Russian mafia through some dodgy arms deals who can be particularly unforgiving when one doesn’t pay their debts.

taken_three

Veteran ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills knows there is a frame up and in a terrifying and exhilarating cat and mouse game Miller is pursued by wily LAPD detective Frank Doltzer wonderfully played by Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) who soon realizes that Mills is no ordinary opponent. Liam Neeson has the gravitas and the tough guy image to be taken seriously as a hardened father who does not let anyone mess with his family. For there is no messing with Mills -he will find you and kill you.

Without spoiling the rest of the story, Taken 3 is a fast-paced well directed and gritty action thriller which sees Mills cause havoc on a Los Angeles freeway, at a University campus and in the penthouse of nefarious Russian mobster Oleg Malankov played by Sam Spruell (The Hurt Locker).

This is a shoot first and ask questions later film, with stunning action sequences and a fitting way to end the third installment of a gritty action trilogy.

With the razor sharp editing and unforgiving hand to hand combat sequences, the original Taken was such a surprise hit, with its trademark of unrelenting violence in a mature machismo style, it was no wonder that two more sequels were in order.

Taken 3 does not disappoint action fans and those that loved the first two films. Highly recommended viewing for those that like their action heroes older, tougher and wiser.

From Bogota to Turkish Revenge

Taken 2

Getting Tested in Turkey

Los Angeles always used to be portrayed cinematically as a potentially dangerous place, but now in the much anticipated sequel to Taken, aptly named Taken 2, it is the more exotic location of Istanbul that is proving to be treacherous with shady Albanians bent on revenge on retired CIA operative Brian Mills played with zest by Liam Neeson and his family who make a brief visit to the Turkish city.

Taken 2 follows a very similar storyline to Olivier Megaton’s 2011 hit Columbiana featuring the agile Zoe Saldanha who escapes crime ridden Bogota to the safety of America where she trains to be a superb and silent assassin in Chicago to avenge her parents’ murder by the king of a Colombian drug cartel.

Colombiana

Colombiana was big on storyline as well as action and highly engaging featuring a great supporting cast including Callum Blue, Michael Vartan and Cliff Curtis. Megaton’s directorial traits as demonstrated in Colombiana are repeated with less flourish in Taken 2, expertly making use of Istanbul as a fantastic action location as he did with Bogota and Chicago. Where Colombiana succeeded was that the narrative was more original and the action sequence more inventive especially as it wasn’t a sequel. Where Taken 2 succeeded was that it was brilliant as formulaic sequel using the similar revenge, kidnap and violence scenario of the original film Taken.

The 2008 film Taken was set in Paris and directed by Pierre Morel, both films were penned by the writing duo Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen.  Taken 2 and Columbiana have all the traits of a Luc Besson film echoing his ventures as a director in Leon, the Professional and the groundbreaking 1997 hit The Fifth Element. Luc Besson as screenwriter has penned lots of high volume action films over the past decade including The Transporter series, From Paris with Love and Revolver, so while Taken 2 is not as fulfilling plot wise as the original it is just as watchable.

Taken

Using the same cast from the original film Taken (always a good recipe for a successful sequel), Taken 2 features an overprotective and ultra-alert Liam Neeson as Mills along with neurotic ex wife Lenore played by Famke Janssen and more switched on daughter Kim played by Maggie Grace as they journey to Istanbul.

Taken 2 is not big on plot but really a sequel to the success of the original film, involving expertly edited action sequences and some brilliant inventive sound editing which makes it a rather quick and violent excursion in Istanbul not to mention an engaging high velocity action thriller. Maggie Grace shines as the daughter and Megaton’s fluid direction makes Taken 2 a thrill ride making the most of the Turkish city without having to engage too much of the viewers intellect. In fact it is the city Istanbul and Maggie Grace which makes Taken 2 so watchable and those superb 30 minutes after the initial kidnapping has occurred. It’s no wonder that both Taken and Taken 2 has made a killing at the box office.

If viewers enjoyed Colombiana, Taken, From Paris with Love, then Taken 2 will be the perfect way to spend 91 minutes watching Neeson do what he does best. Take revenge in a foreign city in this case Turkish revenge where Istanbul is a nefarious environment and Los Angeles is inadvertently portrayed as a relative safe haven.

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