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Soundtrack review: Taken 3 (Nathaniel Mechaly – 2015)

taken3

 

Liam Neeson is back for one last time as retired agent Bryan Mills in his continuous fight with bad guys threatening his family. From the trailer, the plot of “Taken 3” (or TAK3N) looks better than the previous one and I will definitely see this movie.

Nathaniel Mechaly’s music for this franchise has been surprising and good; surprising because I found some beautiful sentimental themes in the first two scores and I wasn’t expecting that. “Taken 3” is almost as long as the first two scores combined and this is a risk, because the condensed versions worked very well.

He picks up right where he left off with “Predictable”, a moody and reflective jazz tune which just warms my heart. These kinds of pieces set the “Taken” music apart from other action franchises. It’s not all frantic and rushed; the music takes its time to get us to care for the story and the characters. It’s impossible not to be invested in a score like this and not care about what the composer tells you. The pattern continues: after the pulsating “Bryan’s escape” we get a tender piano cue “He didn’t do it” which simply dissolves in the end. It’s a very nice effect because it leaves me with a doubt or an unanswered question. Did he really not do it…?

To me it feels like “Taken 3” adds one more layer to the music we’ve heard so far: the suspense and discomfort. “Kim’s interrogation” is a wonderful composition and one of the most exciting from the whole franchise. It starts slowly and melancholically, with rare piano notes before getting really uncomfortable and ominous. I felt chills during the middle section of this cue but not for long because then the music slowly rises from the depths where Nathaniel Mechaly cleverly kept it and explodes in a tremendous action theme complete even with a few seconds of choir.

The use of strings in this score is brilliant. They add weight to the action pieces as if they were more guns in the hands of the characters. Nothing is linear in “Taken 3”; there are twists and turns in every cue and I never know what to expect around the corner. “Malankov’s penthouse” is a 160 second long thriller in itself. The ending will surprise you.

Add the return of the choirs in “Up to the Russians” is another nice surprise from the composer. The choirs are almost drowned by the instruments but they give the feeling of prisoners trying to escape from a crowd. The strings are their guardians and they weaved a pretty tight net.

We’ve had time to get to know Bryan Mills during three movies and almost three scores so the effect of the 6 minutes long “Bryan’s grief” is more poignant that if this cue had come earlier in the franchise. All the trials and dramas he’s been through morph into a deep and heartbreaking string driven theme, which just makes you forget all about action and fighting and makes you focus on what’s going on inside this troubled character. “Bryan’s grief” will end up as my favorite piece from the franchise. It has heart, weight, sorrow and moments of revolt and for me this should be “Bryan’s theme”.

“Taken 3” finishes the trilogy of scores on a high. Now all that’s left for me is the dilemma about which of the compositions is my favorite: “Taken 2” or “Taken 3”. I guess I’ll just have to listen to them again and decide. My gain!

Cue rating: 87 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 19 / 51

Album excellence: 38%

Highlights:

Predictable

Leonor Is Dead

He Didn’t Do It

Kim Interrogation

Malankov’s Penthouse

Up to the Russians

Bryan’s Grief

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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