We’ve learned quite a few things about retired CIA veteran Bryan Mills during the course of the previous two Taken movies: his skill with guns. His love for his wife and daughter. His ability to turn just about anything into a torture device. Our biggest take-away from the Taken franchise, though, is that Mills is a man of extraordinary emotional resilience.
In the first Taken, his daughter was kidnapped, so Mills did what any father would do: killed everyone in Paris until the daughter turned up again. In Taken 2, both he and his wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) are the ones who are kidnapped, leaving daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) to run around Istanbul throwing hand grenades off the roofs of buildings.
Eventually, Mills – thanks to the cunning use of a tiny, tiny mobile phone hidden somewhere unmentionable – slipped his bonds and killed everyone in Istanbul until his wife was freed again.
So we’re now two films into the Mills saga. He’s been involved in two extremely intense miniature wars with Albanian gangsters, almost losing his daughter in one and his wife in another, and coming into harm’s way himself in both instances. Yet not once does he seemed fazed by any of it; within a matter of days of the Istanbul incident, Mills is sitting in a diner, enjoying a milkshake with his wife and daughter and making jokes about not slaughtering Kim’s latest boyfriend.
But as the first trailer for next year’s Taken 3 (stylised as Tak3n, or T4k3n, or something) reminds us, Mills’ years of torment are far from over. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is again:
Yes, Bryan Mills is about to be attacked on his home turf by – you guessed it – tattooed gangsters from unfamiliar climes. But what else have we learned from this first bit of sound and vision from returning director Olivier Megaton? Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first:
VIOLENCE AND TORTURE
The Taken movies generally showcase Mills’ ability to snap necks and shove sharp objects into mens’ thighs, though the 12A rating of the second film’s theatrical cut tempered all that somewhat. Torture and bloodletting seems to take a bit of a back-seat in this film, replaced instead with a greater emphasis on Fast & Furious-style vehicular mayhem (more on this later).
There is, however, a little bit of this:
Oh Bryan, you loveable old soul. Influenced no doubt by Bruce Willis’ stuffed toy antics at the start of Die Hard, Mills shows up on Kim’s doorstep with a colossal stuffed panda. This is in spite of the fact that Kim is now well into her 30s, and would have been happier had her dad brought along a Clairol Foot Spa, thank you very much.
It’s broadly in line with the odd gifts Mills cooked up for his daughter in the earlier films, like the time he took her to see Holly Valance in concert back in 2008’s Taken, or the time he bought her Pippa Funnell’s Farm Adventures for the Nintendo DS in Taken 2.
Actually, we may have made that last one up, but the point is this: Bryan Mills is not a monster. He might kill mercilessly, ripping the jaws off other men like an angry mountain bear, or connecting them up to the national grid to leave them screaming for their mothers as their very souls are electrocuted from their bodies, but he’s not a monster.
Would a monster buy his daughter a giant panda as a gift?
Would a monster take off his shades and squint at his daughter like a creepy pirate without an eye-patch?
We think not.
There’s something about Taken 3′s trailer that suggests to us that the budget might have been raised a bit since the previous film. Sure, some cars got smashed up in the earlier Taken flicks, but this one has chases, explosions, helicopters, and then this really good bit where a plane pops a wheelie and then Bryan Mills knocks the plane’s front wheel off with a Porsche:
Then there’s this bit, where a car goes tumbling end over end down a rather empty-looking freeway:
Bryan Mills might be rubbish at choosing presents (he brought us an In The Night Garden bath time play set for us last Christmas), but he clearly still has what it takes behind the wheel.
Now’s probably a good time to go through the basics of Taken 3’s plot. Bryan Mills is now happily back in America following his adventures overseas, and has vowed never to leave the safety of the US again. His wife and daughter are loving and radiant, and everything seems soft-focus and perfect. But gangland forces, still stinging from the violence meted out on them by Mills in the past, are drawing their plans against him.
Returning home one day, Mills finds his beloved wife Lenore murdered. Unsurprisingly, Mills is the prime suspect. Having escaped from the police (using his particular set of skills), Mills hides in a nearby storm drain.
Meanwhile, a police inspector played by Forest Whitaker attempts to track Mills down, and tells his men to search every farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in the area.
“I didn’t kill my wife!” says Mills.
“I don’t care,” says-
Sorry, we must be getting muddled up here somewhere.
UNIMAGINABLE SORROW AND GRIEF
Anyway, so Mills sets about clearing his name while at the same time avenging his wife’s death and protecting his daughter Kim from the attention of various tattooed gangsters.
And once again, the film appears to show Bryan Mills’ extraordinary emotional resilience in the face of tragedy. His loving wife lies dead in their bedroom. And how does he express his sorrow and grief? The only way he knows how.
Taken 3 is out in UK cinemas on the 8th January 2015.
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