<b>BACK IN ACTION:</b> Liam Neeson reprises his role as ex-covert operative Bryan Mill for <i>Taken 3</i>.

Ever since the second Taken was released, folks have been complaining bitterly about the declining violence against nonwhite transgressors and innocent bystanders. Agreed. What is the damn deal? What’s disgraceful about this film is the complete lack of Asian and Middle Eastern characters usually there for Bryan (Liam Neeson) to beat up, shoot, or neck crack. Any old tough-guy movies — from Die Hard to The Expendables — can maim and annihilate packs of tattooed Russkies. Yet who does this film choose as its easy-pickins bullet cushions? You guessed it. Somehow this whole franchise seems to be trending toward more politically correct violence, and we just won’t take it.

And that’s not even the worst part. Where is it written, I ask you, that freelance former CIA death-dealing dudes get some advanced relationship-counseling credentials alongside their Navy SEALs combat certificates? The first 15 minutes of this lug-headed sequel is taken up with our hero — who used to kill dozens before breakfast — passing out adages of live-and-let-live wisdom to his daughter, his ex-wife, and even the guy sleeping with his ex-wife — and all before he busts anybody’s ass.

Don’t get me started on overseas stuff, either. This film doesn’t leave the U.S.A. once. Okay, I admit, it does take place in Los Angeles, where a lotta opportunity for multicultural smackdowns exists. Still, instead of rescuing Bryan’s floozy daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) from so-called foreign entanglements, this film takes a personal side with Bryan’s wife. But I don’t want to ruin a bad story with too many details.

In the end, Taken 3 is a blurry action flick buried beneath an annoyingly careful morality tale, and the result is a movie that, sadly, people who take secret pleasure in bigoted entertainment won’t even enjoy.


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