It’s not because the acting, dialogue, or script were astounding. Because none of them were.
It’s not because the film fills a gap in our need for vigilantes to do what we feel we can’t to make a difference in the world. Because if films like that make us feel better, they can also make us feel complacent, and maybe a little blood thirsty. These movies do end up being a little “torture porn the family can enjoy” in some scenes.
It’s not because if there’s a sequel there also has to be a trilogy.
There’s only one reason there needs to be a Taken 3, and the reason is because it should go like this:
In Taken 3, Liam Neeson and his family stay in America and relax. He gets back with his wife, watches his daughter marry a nice young man with good intentions who treats her right, and has even gotten a job protecting the President for the past three years and is about to retire.
And no, the President doesn’t get in any trouble. The whole movie, Liam Neeson just walks around the President doing his ol’ routine of staring at people and making sure they’re not threats.
Same family: zero danger. Why? Because we’re in America, where sex trafficking doesn’t exist. Where your daughter is safe from Eurotrash sex slavers, and if your daughter is safe, everyone’s daughter is safe.
For millions of Americans who watched Taken and Taken 2, the message reinforced was this: America is so free and safe, and if we ever forget that we should go to places like France where you’ll get kidnapped and sold as a sex slave as soon as you step out of the hotel. European governments never care about girls, so they let it all go down, but the American government is strong enough to prevent this from ever happening.
Which is why in Taken 3 we should watch a full hour of Liam Neeson and his wife and daughter enjoy a vacation to Disney Land, and even Christmas in New York! No shots of greasy Albanian sex traffickers and evil-eyed, hijab-covered women walking around doing nothing but casting predatory glares.
Only interspersed between these happy American family scenes will be another set of scenes. As the family rides the rides at Disney Land, the sky camera pans over to Laguna Hills where a prostitution ring chains women to beds in the basement of a house. Then we cut to Hollywood making a movie in a studio lot that simulates a foreign country where sex trafficking exists, because we have to go to an exotic place to see that.
While the family opens presents in New York on Christmas, we cut to Olivia Benson bust open a sex trafficking case that involves European girls smuggled from Europe to America to become sex slaves. Olivia doesn’t just wait until her daughter is kidnapped.
Then, at the very end, Lisbeth Salander rides up on a motorcycle and preaches to the audience about how “beating up all those sex traffickers in Europe” tourism may make us feel informed and filled with righteous anger, but we still have plenty of sex trafficking issues here in America.
I don’t intend to make you feel guilty for watching the movies. I watched the movies. I do intend to make you feel stupid if you watched the movies and thought to yourself “boy, am I glad I live in America,” or felt to yourself, “man, since I watched Liam Neeson beat up all those sex slavers I vicariously have done something to combat sex trafficking.”
I’m sure lots of men watched those movies with their wives and children and patted themselves on the back because they knew they would do the same thing for their family, when in reality 99% of men would be incapable of performing all of the actions necessary to accomplish what Liam Neeson did in the films in order to retrieve his wife and daughter. It’s a wishful thinking fantasy, because if that were to happen to any of us, we would be at the mercy of whatever law forces were around and whatever they were able to do. But nobody wants to think about that. Everyone wants to think we’re strong enough to handle problems when they become our problems.
For more information about sex trafficking right here in the US, visit the FBI page.