Taken 3 finds Liam Neeson reprising his role as Bryan Mills, a loving but dangerous ex-U.S. government super agent who also seems to have the worst luck in regards to family kidnappings of any person who has ever lived. Taken 3 did not screen early for critics (which is always a good sign), so, on a cold New York City Friday morning, I trudged up to a movie theater on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and purchased a ticket for Taken 3. As I watched, I kept a running, diary … here’s how that all went.
10:57 a.m.: There are, surprisingly, around 30 people here for the first showing of Taken 3. I am the only one under the age of 65.
10:58 a.m.: I honestly had no idea how popular the Taken movies are with retirement-aged people.
10:59 a.m.: A trailer for Mordecai just played and it suddenly dawned on me that it’s a real movie and I will have to watch the whole thing soon.
11:09 a.m.: Taken 3 starts with Bryan Mills buying a giant stuffed panda for his daughter, Kim, who is still in high school even though in real life Maggie Grace is 31 years-old.
11:10 a.m.: Kim does not want the panda.
11:11 a.m.: I hope the panda is what gets taken in this movie.
11:14 a.m.: Bryan is having a nice moment with his ex-wife, but I’ve seen the trailers so I know what happens to her.
11:16 a.m.: Bryan Mills is playing golf. I really wish this were the movie — just a normal day in the life of Bryan Mills when no one in his family gets kidnapped.
11:19 a.m.: Now Bryan Mills is ordering bagels. This is great. Maybe it really is just about a normal day.
11:20 a.m.: Nevermind.
11:22 a.m.: Bryan Mills has been framed for his ex-wife’s murder. He really is the unluckiest guy.
11:29 a.m.: “Your mom is dead. Someone murdered her in my apartment.” Bryan Mills delivers this line to his daughter over the phone in a tone that is better suited for something like, “They are out of two percent milk, I bought skim instead.”
11:32 a.m.: I bet if Bryan Mills just showed the cops a copy of Taken 2, they’d leave him alone.
11:33 a.m.: Forest Whitaker is in this movie. He’s playing a police officer.
11:34 a.m.: So far, nothing in this movie has been taken except my money.
11:37 a.m.: I wonder how the Taken 3 conversation went with Famke Janssen.
“Hey, Famke, we’d love for you to be in Taken 3.”
“That’s great, what will we be up to this time? This time do I get to rescue someone who’s been taken?”
“Not exactly. Most of your scenes involve lying on a slab in a morgue and pretending you’re dead. What do you think?”
11:40 a.m.: No one in this whole theater has made any kind of reaction to anything that has happened in this movie.
11:42 a.m.: I wonder what Bryan Mills’ golf handicap is.
11:49 a.m.: A police car just fell down some sort of elevator shaft, then the elevator shaft exploded. A guy in my row said, “Huh.”
11:55 a.m.: Bryan Mills just said the sentence, “She was snatched.” As if everyone involved with Taken 3 knows they’ve overused the word “taken.”
11:55 a.m.: I’m looking forward to Snatched 3.
12:00 p.m.: Forest Whitaker’s cop character carries around a knight chess piece.
12:01 p.m.: I think the knight chess piece is supposed to symbolize the game of chess that’s taking place between Taken 3 and the audience’s intelligence.
12:05 p.m.: Bryan and Kim are reunited in a bathroom stall at her school. Bryan explains how he’s been framed and how he’s going to find the person who murdered Kim’s mother. Kim thinks this is an appropriate time to tell her dad that she’s pregnant. Wait, what?
12:06 p.m.: “There’s not quite enough plot, we should add an unexpected pregnancy.”
12:17 p.m.: Bryan Mills is waterboarding a man.
12:18 p.m.: To explain who the villain of the movie is, we get to watch a montage of the villain’s early life doing villainous things.
12:19 p.m.: I want to go home.
12:22 p.m.: “How can I trust you?” “You can trust me.” Two lines of dialogue from Taken 3.
12:30 p.m.: Bryan Mills just used a defibrillator to kill a villain even though he’s not in a hospital and for the life of me I can’t figure out how he would ever just have one of those to use in this situation. Anyway, life is full of mysteries.
12:33 p.m.: Bryan Mills is fighting the head Russian villain who is wearing tighty whities.
12:37 p.m.: What’s great about this movie is that I’m sure Bryan Mills will be exonerated, but at one point he threw a police officer out of a moving vehicle and I bet that will just be ignored.
12:38 p.m.: “You shut up.” A line of dialogue from Taken 3.
12:45 p.m.: Bryan Mills just crashed a car into a plane. This made me laugh out loud and three people turned around and looked at me.
12:46 p.m.: This movie will make one billion dollars.
12:47 p.m.: Bryan Mills is beating the living hell out of someone while listing off all of the terrible things that person did. One of them is, “Sending texts? Then deleting them!” [Punch.]
12:48 p.m.: I will never delete another text message as long as I live.
12:50 p.m.: There is a coda to this movie that addresses the pregnancy, which is a plot point I suspect everyone regrets at this point.
12:55 p.m.: I have no doubt there will be a Taken 4 and of course the baby will be taken and I will pay money to see it. I will now spend the weekend in quiet reflection on my career choices that have led me to this point.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.