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Taken 3 - Liam Neeson Is Back...Again.


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The trilogy-capping Taken 3 is action-movie slop

So what, exactly, is wrong with Taken 3? A lot of things, most of which can be attributed to the fact that director Olivier Megaton—who also helmed Taken 2—couldn’t mount an action scene if his life depended on it.

Pierre Morel, the cinematographer-turned-director behind the original Taken and the parkour flick District B13, at least had the good sense to move the camera with Neeson, playing off of his size and heft to create momentum. Making good on his name, Megaton takes the quantity-over-quality approach, executing a flurry of cuts across as many sloppy angles as possible, producing a gurgling brownish soup of photochemical textures and handheld jitters.

This is the sort of movie where it takes a half-dozen shots for a man to jump over a fence. It’s busy, but lacks any sense of movement, and is too visually monotonous to work on an abstract level.

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I think it's the latter, directors simply not having the skill to shoot and then edit action appropriately.

This episode of the superb Every Frame A Painting highlights the importance of direction and editing to beautiful, clear, engrossing action:

Look how fucking clearly that shit is shot! It's beautiful! Fucking beautiful. The framing! Imagine if western action was shot like that.

That was very interesting. One thing I'd never realised was when Chan cuts between punches or kicks, the arm or leg is pulled back from the position it was in in the previous frame, giving the next hit more impact, whereas American directors tend to leave it in the same position. Such a basic, simple thing, and yet it works so well.

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Ah that Dragons Forever scene is such a masterpiece. So rewatchable. As for this series - Megaton is terrible even by the low standards of western action directors. He has no feel for it at all. For some reason producers don't seem to notice or care when directors can't direct action - see the plethora of big budget action films being handed to indie/arthouse drama directors over the last few years. It worked for Skyfall because the cinematographer is one ofbthe greatest of all time, but outside of that...

Morel is a very solid action director, wish they would have brought him back.

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I saw a making of clip of the last samurai. It was showing a fight scene where Tom Cruise takes on loads of ninjas. It was really well choreographed and shot from a wide angle, it was a pleasure to watch. Then in the film it is a choppy mess and doesn't do the stunt guys any justice. It is fucking weird.

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Yeah. Sadly the sequels don't hold a candle to the first one. I can regularly rewatch the first one but can't see myself ever bothering with the sequels again.

As for action directing, if your director can't film them it's not an absolute problem, just get a decent second unit director to do it. Vic Armstrong's book is a great read about his days as a stuntman and then later as a successful, and very much in demand, second unit director.

I just do not understand when the studio are watching films like this how they think it is acceptable to present the action in this way. Ever since the Bourne films I've loathed shaky cam action sequences and choppy editing but they keep happening so someone must like them.

I was quite bad when Whedon got the Avengers gig. I think coming from a TV background helps resist the urge to cut the action sequences to pieces. Micheal Bay is actually one of the best action directors working today, he just shouldn't have anything to do with the story or the script of the movies he works on.

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A lot of the best action is in DTV these days - really sad. I too hate shaky cam with a passion - i can deal with it in small doses but when you can't tell what's going on i tune right out. I watched the 'harder cut' of Taken 2 as my first viewing as that was pissweak with terrible editing - the cinema version must've been a real nightmare.

Here's a clip from Ninja 2 with Sutton Coldfield's very own Scott Adkins. Great action.

The first time i saw that kick at 1:29 i had to rewind and watch in slow motion about 3 times, just like I used to with Chan movies as a kid.

Another wonderful slab of violence - sports store in UniSol 4 - films pretty bad but the fight scenes are great.

as an aside, I'm hoping Pierre Morel's The Gunman is good. I loved his style in Taken and even thought From Paris with Love was great fun.

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Is that good?

I think the second one opened to $49 million but given the negative reaction to the second one and the critical mauling which this one achieved I think that a $40M weekend is a considerable win.

Interestingly, apparently whilst the budget for the third was slightly bigger than the second, if you deduct Neeson's reported $20M salary the actual production budget is lower than the second film. Given the ability for these films to be produced fairly cheaply and make a good profit I wouldn't rule out Taken 4 at some point.

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I just got around to watchmg the first Taken yesterday, and thought it was tip top, so it's a real shame to hear that the sequels are garbage.

I think you should definitely watch Taken 2. It's terribly made, but it's so ludicrous I can't help loving it. I can speak for 3, but 2 is worth the time purely for Bryan's ad-hoc GPS solution.

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I recommend John Wick for a really well-shot US action movie. Well worth a watch.

Matthew Vaughn and Edgar Wright tend to have good action in their films as well, because both use Bradley James Allan as fight choreographer, the first non-Asian in Jackie Chan's stunt team. Guy knows his onions.

KingsmanThe Secret Service has excellent action scenes apparently.

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I think you should definitely watch Taken 2. It's terribly made, but it's so ludicrous I can't help loving it. I can speak for 3, but 2 is worth the time purely for Bryan's ad-hoc GPS solution.

Good enough for me, I will hunt it down...

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Matthew Vaughn and Edgar Wright tend to have good action in their films as well, because both use Bradley James Allan as fight choreographer, the first non-Asian in Jackie Chan's stunt team. Guy knows his onions.

The toilet fight scene in 'World's End' is brilliant. Witty and punchy, in all senses of the word...

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So it sounds like they've taken the absolute opposite approach to sequels than Death Wish.

Michael Winner had the right idea - add more sex, violence, gratuitous tits, rocket launchers, synthesiser soundtracks by guitar genius Jimmy Page and east end of london doubling as New York.

That's how Taken 2 and 3 should have been. Not this piss 90s Stallone approach of watering stuff down to cater for the teenagers. Teenagers want more sex, violence and Jimmy Page synth soundtracks!

Any chance of Michael Winner directing Taken 4: City Under Siege?

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I've just watched Taken 2, and I get the feeling it'd have been enjoyable enough fare if I could see what was going on.

See, not tell. You can always tell what's happened, but it's an action movie. So often the killer blow is obscured behind three or four cuts, or bad framing, or awkward camera positions, that you never feel the weight of anything that's happened. It's the difference between watching the big fight live, and reading the newspaper report afterwards.

Action aside, Bryan Mills' Triangulation Hour makes for hilarious viewing as Rowan says. Now, I gather I'm reviewing the second film in the third's thread, but I'll get around to seeing that on Thursday. Given everything above seems to point towards more of the same rather than a return to glory, I don't expect much at all.

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Well, I've seen the third now and I think it might be a better film than the second, but it's not because of the action which is still as ludicrously cut as before, in terms of both camerwork and censorship. It's probably a more interesting storyline, and it actually has relatively few action sequences, so you get to spend more time actually seeing people talk and do things with their brains and stuff.

Shame the whole thing is still ludicrously stupid, I suppose.

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