2/10 As much as I love Liam Neeson, at this point I think he needs to stop making these January release date action movies. Not due to his age (although it is finally starting to show by the lack of physicality that now goes into these roles) but due to diminishing returns in regards to the quality of these movies. Although he has some strong action films, Neeson is much better used when paired with a strong director like Christopher Nolan (“Batman Begins”) or Martin Scorsese (“Silence”). This movie is definitely one of his worst action movies. For starters, we have seen this plot before. A family member is either kidnapped or murdered and Neeson has to go get revenge, with the authorities having no idea he is killing tons of people so he is free to get away with it all. So the story is completely recycled and whereas at least movies like “Taken” showcase the fight choreography or action, director Hans Petter Moland often cuts away right before a killing or fight, instead flashing forward to afterwards, which eliminates the potential for any kick ass fight/action scenes. As puzzled as I was to why you would skip the action scenes in an action movie, perhaps it is Neeson’s age preventing him from being as physical as he has been in past movies. One of the worst offenses this movie commits is that its supporting characters couldn’t be more paper thin if they tried and they are given nothing to do. The talented Laura Dern is in the movie for maybe seven minutes and then disappears. We know nothing of her marriage to Neeson because there is no development there. There are also two cops investigating the case that are completely worthless, provide nothing to the story and are under developed and only inserted in at random times. The villain is also forgettable and generic and his acting came across as trying too hard. One of the henchmen sees what an unsettled, crazy killer his boss is yet still thinks it is smart to talk back and be a smart ass in scene after scene until his boss strongly reacts, which we all saw coming. Even a random gay romance is forced in for absolutely no reason and serves no purpose at all. It is as if several character threads were started, only to instantly be abandoned. The only positives I can say for this movie are that the score has some flair and is rather unique, the pacing is solid, I liked the names that came up on the screen after someone died and the physical setting adds an extra element to the movie but other than those, this is a forgettable, generic, poorly written movie with weak action (when they aren’t cutting away from it) and a couple of forced comedic scenes (like a driver playing bad music and Native Americans scolding a front desk clerk of a hotel for using the word “reservation”) that completely fall flat. Avoid this movie like it was frost bite, for it isn’t worth your pursuit.
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