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Running out of kidnapped relatives for Liam Neeson’s ex-CIA killing machine to rescue, scribes Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen turn him into a fugitive framed for murder in “Taken 3,” a mind-numbing, crash-bang misfire that abandons chic European capitals for the character’s own backyard.

French director Olivier Megaton, who at least paced “Taken 2” with workmanlike efficiency, executes the pedestrian plot without a shred of tension or finesse.

Despite the more elaborate action setpieces and heightened casualties, the premise remained just as basic and clear: The shocking way in which the hostages are taken, and the methodical manner in which the retired CIA agent tracked them, generated tremendous excitement.

Without someone to save, the concept of a race against time is seriously weakened.

While family matters were kept short and sweet in the other two installments, “Taken 3” stretches out the kitchen-sink drama endlessly: Mills’ daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), who was 17 when she was first kidnapped, is now a college student facing serious adult problems.

Her dad, however, still believes that, after having hurled a few hand grenades and driven a stolen car through a shower of bullets, she’d still be content to play with a stuffed panda on her birthday.

Equally troubled is Lenore, who seeks consolation as her marriage to filthy-rich Stuart (Dougray Scott) is on the rocks.

The possibility of Lenore and Mills rekindling their relationship is put on hold, however, when he’s forced to go on the run for a crime he didn’t commit.As he said to Lenore in the previous film: “I’ll be OK.It’s the people following me who’re gonna have a problem.” Given that Mills walked away Scot-free from double-figure body counts in Europe, watching him evade arrest by Inspector Frank Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) doesn’t yield much in terms of suspense or surprises.Mills describes Dotzler as “very clever,” though the latter’s theory that anyone who buys warm bagels can’t be a cold-blooded killer ranks among the more illogical police deductions in recent memory.Elsewhere, detecting and blocking each other’s tracking devices is pretty much the extent of their mental sparring.One of the series’ talking points has been its extremely negative portrayal of Albanians; “Taken 2” closed on a note suggesting the the blood feud would live on, and it would have made sense here for it to continue here, or for Mills to finally set foot in the hermit country.

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