Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
It’s the third instalment of the popular franchise and little seems to have changed for our protagonist—ex- CIA agent Bryan Mills. Since our last encounter with Mills (played by Liam Neeson) in Taken 2, he is still the true family man, fiercely protective over his little girl (who isn’t so little anymore) and unflagging in his devotion to his ex-wife (who’s constantly facing marital problems). Life has finally settled to a state of normalcy, or so it seems.
Life takes a sharp turn for the worse when Mills is suddenly framed for mysterious murder of his ex-wife and becomes the fugitive himself. True to the minimum requirements of an action genre, Taken 3 is an exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping exploit which sees Mills taking the law into his own hands (once again) in his endeavor to find out who murdered his ex-wife, clear his name, and protect his one and only daughter.
Despite being a departure from previous storylines where his family escapes unscathed by the end of the show, Taken 3 rides on a tried and tested formula of intense action sequences complete with highway chases, carjacking escapades, and even a questionable waterboarding scene. There’s nothing mind-blowing in its approach and ending but Taken fans (myself included) will be satisfied by the result, because ultimately, Neeson can do no wrong as the devoted father who would go to the end of the earth to protect his family.
That, I believe, is the unique and successful formula that makes the Taken “trilogy” such a hit (despite its occasional cringe-worthy lines). Neeson’s portrayal of the sacrificial father who would put himself in harm’s way, time and time again, out of love for his family is compelling and convincing. The viewer cannot help but root for him, regardless of what he does (which happens to include hijacking police cars, threatening innocent individuals, obstructing justice, killing people, exploding buildings, to name a few).
As givers and recipients of love ourselves, it might be a useful exercise to see how Mills’ love stacks up against the ultimate standard of love that we’re familiar with—our heavenly Father’s.
1. Movie: Mills took the law into his own hands and meted out punishment on those who hurt his family.
Bible: God took the punishment of everyone, both believers and non-believers, by dying on the cross for us (Romans 5:6-8).
2. Movie: Mills killed all who hurt his family.
Bible: Jesus “killed” Himself, so to speak, for sinners who hurt Him by our wilful disobedience (Ephesians 2:3-4).
3. Movie: Mills did not forgive those who hurt and killed his family and promised to find them and kill them.
Bible: Jesus forgives all sinners, regardless of the gravity of their sins, as long as they repent (John 3:16). He finds them so as to save them (Luke 19:10).
No doubt Mills loved his daughter, but his love was limited, flawed, and conditional. God’s love, on the other hand, is indiscriminate of relations, perfect, and always unconditional. And at the end of the day, the Hollywood depiction of true love is fundamentally, always lacking in that regard.
Let’s not be taken for a ride.
Photo credit: www.foxmovies.com