2nd Run Theater: Taken 3 vs. John Wick – Whoa. I Know Kung-Fu.

No it doesn’t.

The credit I give both movies is that they are some spectacularly choreographed action movies.  The action scenes are entertaining, and while they defy belief, belief is not really required – just your undivided attention.  In both flicks you have your aging or aged protagonist, anti-hero whose thrust into a situation that is seemingly out of their control and go headlong on an action/adventure romp that leaves bodies everywhere but little to hold on to after the action stops.  With that said….

Taken 3

Hide your kids….

 

Taken 3 takes place sometime after Taken 2 and Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is living a quiet life trying to rebuild his broken relationship with his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen).  Ever the loving daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace) is also starting a new life with her boyfriend and coming to terms with certain life situations that always tend to rear their interesting heads.  Lenore, remarried to Stuart St. John (Dougray Scott), is in an unhappy place with her new marriage and she and Bryan are finding newfound attraction to one another as she seeks to also rekindle that once passionate relationship.  However, Lenore is brutally murdered one day in Bryan’s home and the adventure to find and seek revenge for her murder begins.

First off, why was this even called “Taken”?  It should have been at least called “Taken:  The Fugitive 3 or U.S. Marshalls 2?” because the main premise of the franchise and the first two movies was that they were “search and rescue” films; this was more of a “seek and destroy” flick.  I don’t have a problem with this, but I just found that the franchise has taken [no pun intended] another direction and the idea of what Taken was about no longer has merit.  The interesting thing also is that this movie did fairly well in the theaters and Taken 4 is more than likely on its way to you in the near future (this can’t take more than a few days to shoot – I kid).  With that said, by the end of the movie, I at least have a theory (should they go back to the original recipe) who will be “taken” next.  If I were in the Mills family, I’d just hunker down in a bunker somewhere and never go outside again.

Big-ups to Liam Neeson for showing us young dudes how to hold it down in your 60’s, but… he did look oooold in this flick.

Yeah… ouch.

 

John Wick

I know people give Keanu Reeves a lot of flak (rightly so in some case) for being – Keanu Reeves, but I also have found myself to be a fan of Keanu as a person.  Once I started reading up on his background (by accident) and how he generously lives his life, I found him to be one of the few “stars” that I really respect.  You should really just take the time to get hip to the Keanu story.  But, back to the movie in discussion….

This really isn’t a good flick, but I’m not saying I wasn’t entertained.  I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good, Russian mob movie?  John Wick is an ex-hit man for the Russian mob who left his life of blood and murder to start a life with a woman he fell in love with.  Three days after her untimely death due to an undisclosed illness, he’s given new hope in the form of a gift his wife left him as she lay dying.  Still reeling from his loss, he’s confronted by a pack of young, punk, Russian mobsters who have taken an unhealthy interest in him.  After leaving him for dead, they soon begin to realize that that was a mistake – a costly one.  Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) is the Russian mob boss whose crew has come under siege of John Wick looking for revenge and it’s a race against time for him to kill John before he kills everyone he loves – and boy does he spectacularly kill some mobsters.

I get the reasoning behind why John went on his rampage and I understand not only his pain, but his single-minded focus on vengeance.  What I found to be a little hokey and even silly were some aspects of the story that delved into the mythical hit man culture, hideouts and cover-ups.  It became almost a joke of itself, a video game adaptation of sorts, when it got away from the story and introduced some of these side characters that didn’t add to the mystique of the story, but took away from it.  So if anything, these side elements are what made me give this movie the side-eye as opposed to enjoying a fairly simple revenge movie.

Again, what I found to be quite entertaining were the fight scenes.  The gunplay was pretty cool and the fight scenes (while not quite Bourne Identity level) were entertaining and had a few rewind-worthy moments.  I’m guessing Keanu took some lessons to heart doing the Matrix films.  When we finally get to the end, we get a fairly predictable and pseudo-poetic ending that kind of capped this very uneven and generic romp through a very short period in time of a former killer-for-hire.

I’m not going to tell you to break your neck to see this movie, but if you do – don’t feel the need to take it any more seriously than it deserves.

I don’t necessarily agree.
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