Baby Boomers are annoying in oh so many ways.
We cannot hold a candle to our parents’ generation — Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation.” Our parents weathered the Depression and WWII, enduring sacrifice and grief. We, on the other hand, had solvency, support and goofiness. We had it all and we refused to share and we refuse to quit the stage, which is, perhaps, why our children will comprise the first generation destined to be worse off than their parents. The majority of the members of Congress are Baby Boomers: unwilling to compromise, unable to negotiate, ignorant of statesmanship.
Worst of all is our reluctance to leave our sinecures and let youth succeed us. We are speaking particularly of our actors. To be precise, we are speaking of our aging action hero actors.
Explain, please, how it is that Bruce Willis, Denzel Washington and Kevin Costner (all 60) are still shooting, stabbing, exploding and enjoying sequels. How can it be that Arnold (67) and Sly (68) can continue to lay waste to minor nations ruled by tattooed fiends with Slavic accents?
We’re leaving Harrison Ford (72) out of this for now because he is not, officially, a Boomer, having been born in 1942. Well, let’s not leave him out. He was in “The Expendables 3,” he’s about to appear in the newest “Star Wars” and he’s signed up for “Indiana Jones 5.”
But this is not about them. It’s about Liam Neeson. Neeson, who turns 63 in three days, is back at it in “Taken 3.” Here is an aging action hero who will not leave the stage except horizontally. And why should he? Hand him a 9-mm pistol and a hackneyed character history and young punks commence getting perforated, pounded and outfoxed by the artful codger.
In “Taken 3,” as in “Taken 2,” as in “Taken,” Neeson plays former covert operative Bryan Mills. His attempted reconciliation with his hot ex-wife (Famke Janssen) is cut short when her throat is cut through by a brutal cad. Mills is framed and vigorously pursued by the Los Angeles Police Department, CIA, FBI and the SOB who framed him in the first place.
Mills must use his “particular set of skills” to find the real killers and save his daughter. He calls on his equally ancient former comrades to hide, arm and assist him, providing us with a whole new take on the “old boys’ network.”
The foreshadowing is shouted into both of your ears, the hero’s motivation is as nuanced as a croquet mallet to your forehead and the fight scenes are uniformly chaotic, claustrophobic and hard to follow. Significantly, all the cops, chaps and footpads Mills trounces are decades younger than he. Oh, and there are plot holes through which you could drive a large war wagon. Why Mills was not killed (or even lightly bruised) in the two spectacular car crashes is a mystery for the ages.
The larger mystery is why Hollywood keeps pumping out geriatric shoot-’em-ups and why we keep watching. Maybe it’s because there are more of us than there are of them. The actors won’t leave the stage and the aged audience members won’t leave the cinema. Why would we? It’s half off if you’re over 62.