The Road Not Taken 3

Taken 3 is currently in theaters

Taken 3

 

Taken 3 (2015) – Rated PG-13

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.

Ugh.

It is pretty sad when absolutely the best thing about a Liam Neeson action movie is the preview for Liam Neeson’s next action movie.

One Line Review: Liam Neeson is a man with a particular set of skills – unfortunately saving this film is not one of them.

I have to admit that I was not caught unawares. Taken (directed by Pierre Morel) was a fabulous romp but Taken 2 (directed by Olivier Megaton) was just awful, in spite of some nice shots of Istanbul, the same cast (well, those who survived the first film anyway), and the same screenwriters.

All three films were written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. Strangely Taken is well written but Taken 2 is a slapped together mess, apart from the humorous idea that all of the surviving family members of the villains that Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) killed have banded together.

The script for Taken 3 is surprisingly lazy. Since Mills was a superspy, you can simply write him doing anything to escape or kill and they do but the scene of Kim Mills being bugged is stupidly clumsy. When you hear Basil Exposition state that Kim always drinks the fourth peach yogurt drink back in the fridge, you will be rolling your eyes waiting for that tip to be useful. We actually return to that little gem twice.

Still lazy is better than inept. I think Olivier Megaton is easily the worst director working in action movies today. After taking down the Transporter series, he has now destroyed Taken in two steps.

I feel so sorry for the stuntmen on Taken 3. Straining to look, you can see that there is a lot of fantastic stuntwork going on in Taken 3. Sadly, Megaton films it entirely with jump cuts and shaky cams. I did a count in my head during one sequence where a car goes off a cliff and I couldn’t get past two Mississippi before it cut over and over again to different angles of the same scene. Every single action sequence is ruined in this fashion. A nice shootout in a liquor store shows some promise but any other director would have handled it better.

Taken 3 seems bizarrely discontent with its PG-13 rating, aiming instead for an actual PG in the violence, despite the torture. I don’t remember specific examples of language but all of the violence is filmed in an incredibly bloodless fashion. When Mills finds a body in his bed, he is completely in disbelief that the person is dead, in spite of the victim’s throat having been slit. I can understand his disbelief as there isn’t so much as a drop of blood spilled in the entire bed.

Lest you posit that this person was killed elsewhere, drained of blood, and transported, let me post another example. Later in the film, Mills shoots a shirtless protagonist mutliple times in the torso. He then tortures this individual by poking his gun in the bullet hole. There is not a drop of blood on this victim, either before torture or after gun poking. This goes on and on. The usual ridiculous number of people are killed for an action film, all bloodlessly.

The tagline for Taken 3 is It Ends Here. We can only hope.

Horrible, Just Horrible – Zombie Night and The Fog (2005)

Zombie Night and The Fog are currently available on instant Netflix.

Zombie Night

 

Zombie Night (2013) – Not rated

As night falls in a small California town, the dead rise from their graves and go looking to feast on the flesh of the living. Two families band together to face a long night of terror, fighting to survive until sunrise.

How about we make a zombie movie? No, everyone has done that already. How about we make a zombie movie starring actors from the 70s and 80s? Brilliant! We’ll pay them a pittance and rake in the money. We won’t even have to pay a screenwriter, these things write themselves.

I cannot believe that three separate people worked on this screenplay and it is still just awful. The dialogue is wooden. The plotting is ridiculous. Yes folks, it’s another Asylum movie.

I gave this one a shot because of the cast. Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science, The Breakfast Club) and Daryl Hannah (Splash, Blade Runner) are the leads. Asylum didn’t stop there though. Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) puts in an appearance as Joseph. Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men) is Karin.

Sadly they round this off with Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family) as Nana. Shirley Jones is just awful here. It won’t take long for you to root for her character to be eaten. The character is incredibly annoying and this may be the worst performance of an actor playing a blind person that I have ever seen.

It takes a lot for an actor to make an Asylum movie even worse than usual. Kudos and avoid this movie like the zombie plague.

The Fog

 

The Fog (2005) – Rated PG-13

Selma Blair, Tom Welling and Maggie Grace star in this creepy thriller about an island town off the coast of Oregon that’s forced to contend with some unwelcome visitors from its past: the spirits of lepers and sailors aboard a ship that the hamlet’s forefathers had steered astray on purpose. Those aboard the doomed vessel all wound up lost in the fog forever. Now, they’re back from the mist, eager to exact revenge on the descendants of their murderers.

I’m not sure what caused me to revisit this remake after seeing the Robocop reboot in theaters. At least the Jose Padilha was using Robocop to try to say something about our current world of drones and surveillance, even if he did fail.

Rupert Wainwright, director of The Fog remake, has no feel for the source material at all. Neither does Cooper Layne who rewrote/updated the script. Wainwright has not directed a movie since and Layne has no further adapted screenplays.

John Carpenter’s The Fog has flaws. The first act is mostly a random assortment of odd happenings. It doesn’t gel at all well with the final two acts but the final two acts are superb. Almost every choice Layne and Wainwright make to distance himself from Carpenter’s original is a misstep.

The original starred Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, and Adrienne Barbeau. The remake replaces them with Maggie Grace, Tom Welling, and Selma Blair. In supporting roles, the original had John Houseman, Janet Leigh, and Hal Holbrook. In the remake, the supporting roles are toned down and much is turned over to the three young leads.

The most egregious mistake is the special effects. Being 1980, Carpenter was restricted to practical effects – fog machines, lighting, makeup effects. These combine brilliantly. Wainwright opts for really shoddy-looking CGI in spite of having eighteen times the budget Carpenter did. Carpenter had creatures risen from the dead. Wainwright had CGI ghosts.

Carpenter’s third act evolves into a brilliant siege film, something he excelled at, having started his career with Assault on Precinct 13. Wainwright’s third act just kind of lumbers along without any suspense. No spoilers here but Carpenter’s ending is superb, another thing he excels at (The Thing, Halloween). Wainwright/Layne’s will just have you shrugging your shoulders.

The remake of The Fog isn’t truly awful, it is just that there is nothing that it does better than the original. If it were original, it would be forgettable. Since it is a copy, why bother?