Taken 3 (12A) **

Taken 3. Pictured: Liam Neeson and 'Forest Whitaker. Picture: PA Photo/Sam Urdank/Fox UK.
Taken 3. Pictured: Liam Neeson and 'Forest Whitaker. Picture: PA Photo/Sam Urdank/Fox UK.
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History repeats with predictably calamitous consequences in Olivier Megaton’s high-octane thriller Taken 3.

In previous films, former Special Forces operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) single-handedly brought down an Albanian human trafficking ring and its underworld offshoots.

He left devastation and an impressive double-digit body count in his wake.

Scriptwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen attempt to convince us that the third film is different from its predecessors by engineering a murderous twist that transforms good guy Bryan from righteous hunter into wanted fugitive.

However, once the turbo-charged car chases and bruising fisticuffs begin in earnest, Taken 3 eases back into a familiar bloodthirsty groove.

As the film opens, Bryan is playing doting father to his grown-up daughter Kim (Maggie Grace).

Ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) continues to question her marriage to second husband, Stuart St John (Dougray Scott), and Bryan gives her a key to his flat if she needs to get away.

Soon after, Bryan returns home to find Lenore in his bed with her throat slit. He’s the prime suspect and manages to escape local police so that he can call Kim and deliver the bad news about her mother.

Determined to clear his name and unmask the real culprit – tattooed kingpin Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell) – Bryan goes on the run from the CIA, FBI and police led by Detective Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker).

Taken 3 delivers a cacophonous conclusion to the franchise that has reinvented Neeson as a big-screen action star. Megaton orchestrates the set pieces with brio, sacrificing plausibility at the altar of increasingly outlandish thrills and spills.

Whitaker lends gravitas to his underwritten role as the canny cop, who begins to doubt Bryan’s guilt, while Neeson barks his perfunctory dialogue with aplomb.

The leading man’s ability to evade certain death becomes a delicious and unintentional running joke. On this evidence, nothing short of a direct hit from a nuclear warhead could stop him.

Taken 4 A Ride is surely just a matter of time.