When the opening scene showed our hero’s daughter viewing a positive pregnancy test with fear, I was all in. A real life situation full of honest potential for conflict? Yes.
Then the next scene took a needle to that balloon. And ground the pieces into the ground.
I actually had to check to see who wrote this film, and was stunned to see the same writers who had done a much better job with Taken 2, penned the last installment as well. In my mind, the problems are in the story. I won’t litter this post with spoilers, but will only reveal my big beef – the daughter.
I’m wondering if Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson have known any pregnant women. Clearly, they didn’t ask the opinion of one as to their portrayal. Understand that I don’t consider myself a feminist by any stretch. I am accustomed to the stereotypes women have acquired in action films. My problem is that that same two writers who made Kim a “chip off the old block” in Taken 2, decided to make her a victim in Taken 3. Why? Because she was pregnant? Spare me.
Pregnant women have been working back-breaking, manual labor jobs right up until they give birth for centuries now. They train horses, work construction, unload trucks, jog, come home from working fourteen hour days to do the domestic chores, even move furniture to clean. I won’t get into the lives of women in poverty-stricken countries. The point is that woman can do a lot while pregnant. This is not news.
And those problems grew.
Problem one: Bryan shows up at Kim’s door with a stuffed panda – the size of an actual panda. After finding Kim more than capable of mapping coordinates, sprinting over rooftops, tossing grenades, dropping him a gun, then driving like a maniac through the narrow streets of Istanbul in a stick shift (after having her driving lessons in an automatic), in Taken 2, one might expect her father to notice the kid has grown up a little.
Problem two: Bryan laces a cup of yogurt with something to make her nauseated enough to leave her class to meet him in the restroom. Then he offers her a liquid antidote to eliminate her nausea, which she guzzles down without mentioning her pregnancy. I’m sorry, but if Kim was pregnant enough to draw a positive test result, she’s probably already nauseated – if only by the thought of having to decide whether to keep the child that will change her life. Nausea is part of the package. No woman thinking about keeping her child would just drink a drug down without question. WITHOUT QUESTION.
Problem three: Then Kim gets to do nothing but stay with Bryan’s crew, safe. Why ever didn’t they think to strap her into a corset and let her fan away the vapors?
You successfully pulled in the female audience. Not just with Neeson as the lead, but by giving Maggie Grace some power in the last film. Don’t yank it away and send us back centuries with clichés. Take a page from Hugo Blick’s playbook. In The Honorable Woman the heroin was a victim, but certainly didn’t behave that way.
I won’t mention the other story problems. All action films have holes large enough to drive all the vehicles they destroy in the chase scenes. But this story was weak. Having seen what was possible in the previous films made it even more disappointing. From the moment I saw Neeson in his first situation, I was distracted with frustration to the point that I couldn’t really enjoy the performances of the rest of the great cast. I wanted to slap the writers. Hard.
The tagline reads “It ends here.” I, for one, hope it does.