With the third instalment of the Taken franchise disappointing audiences worldwide, critics agree it’s the worst of the trilogy. Most of the time the ‘threequel’ pales in comparison to it’s predecessors, however, on the odd occasion it’s viewed as far superior, particularly to the sequel. Usually, this is because the sequel was so bad it couldn’t get any worse, or it’s a determined apology from the filmmakers, taking the time to craft a third entry that wipes our memories clean of the horror that came before. Here are six threequels that are considered better than the sequel.
Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)
While Die Hard 2 (1990) is in no way a bad film, it does suffer from deja vu. Of course, most of the humour comes from John McClane (Bruce Willis) finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time again. However, it’s a formula that we were already familiar with: one man, alone in a building, against a group of terrorists.
With the return of the original’s director John McTiernan, clearly that same premise wouldn’t be good enough for him again. And so we’re treated with a more expansive story, allowing McClane full roam across the entire city of New York, and roam he does. With a foot chase leading to an explosion on a subway, the tearing up of Central Park in a NY cab and surfing a truck in a storm drain tidal wave, McClane ensures his destruction knows no bounds.
Another element added to mix things up was the addition of Samuel L. Jackson’s reluctant sidekick Zeus. Although in the previous film McClane had assistance, this was sporadic and so allowed for more human interaction with McClane and therefore more humour between the duo.
Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
After the incredible success of Ocean’s Eleven (2001), a remake of the rat-pack starring original, nobody was really calling for a sequel or expecting one. So when the eleven reunited for another heist, excitement was high and was duly followed by disappointment. Whilst the original was slick and cool, the inventively titled Ocean’s Twelve (2004) felt forced and dull.
Not willing to let the memory of Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his team die with that miserable excuse of a film, a third instalment was released predictably titled Ocean’s Thirteen. One of the major improvements over the sequel was it’s relocation back to Las Vegas, after Twelve’s vacation in Europe. The bright lights of the strip make for a more inviting and glamorous heist. And although the heist itself did seem over the top at times, it was easier to look past purely because of the sheer enjoyment watching it.
With Andy Garcia’s Terry Benedict no longer a threat, a new mark was required, and in this case it was Al Pacino’s delicious Hotel and Casino owner Wally Bank. Played to perfection, it was clear Pacino was revelling in his bad guy performance.
Mission: Impossible 3 (2006)
Not many were expecting the success of a film based on a television show from the 60s, but when released in 1996 Mission: Impossible was a hit and started the Tom Cruise starring spy franchise. Four years later the sequel M:I 2 (2000) appeared directed by the Hong Kong legend John Woo and it was clear he’d left his mark. With all his trademarks included, slow motion, dual guns, doves, M:I 2 was more of an action film than a spy thriller like the original.
The man who rebooted Star Trek and is now currently doing the same for Star Wars, directed Mission: Impossible 3. Although it retained a few sporadic action set pieces, it focused a lot more on actual spying and intrigue with the outrageous gadgets Mission: Impossible became known for.
We were also treated with a much more devilish villain in the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Owen Davian over the more comical and camp Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) in M:I 2.
Men in Black 3 (2012)
Another surprise hit back in 1997, Men in Black launched Will Smith to movie stardom, mixing the perfect blend of science-fiction and comedy. Five years later the sequel didn’t quite hit the same notes, dragging Tommy Lee Jones‘ Agent Kay out of retirement to face a less than thrilling villain.
However, with the third instalment a new spin on the franchise with the creative addition of time travel made for an interesting and refreshing take. With it’s new time period of the 60s and a younger version of Kay, played by an uncanny Josh Brolin, Men in Black 3 felt like the sequel we deserved. This time they faced off against Jermaine Clement’s brilliantly designed Boris ‘the animal’.
The only disappointment in my personal opinion was the lack of a theme song by Will Smith himself. Instead we had to put up with a poor excuse of one by rapper Pitbull.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
When Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) hit cinemas a franchise was expected; after all it was created by the man who brought us Star Wars, George Lucas. The second outing for Indy, though not terrible, just didn’t live up to the promise. Though the villains were interesting and new, set a year earlier in 1935, Indy’s nemeses the Nazi’s were nowhere to be found. We were also given one of the whiniest love interests to ever appear on screen.
So for the third appearance of the great adventurer, whiny love interests were out and the evil Nazi’s were back causing trouble, tracking down artefacts to help win the war. One thing we can all agree helped was the addition of James Bond himself, Sean Connery as Indy’s father, Dr Henry Jones Snr. The chemistry between the two increased the comedy factor and made for a more rounded adventure experience.
The set pieces felt more exciting and the plot itself was more of the chase we felt in the original, hunting a long lost religious artefact, the Holy Grail.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
One of the biggest horror movies of the early eighties and one of the original slasher films, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) terrified teenagers upon release. With it’s creative concept of killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) murdering his victims within their own dreams, it certainly put you off ever closing your eyes again.
With a rushed sequel subtitled Freddy’s Revenge out only a year later, fans were left disappointed. Craven, not wanting a sequel, refused to work on the film. Although continuing the storyline of the original it took on a completely different direction. Instead of Freddy committing the murders himself, he possessed the protagonist and had them kill for him, an idea Craven did not like.
Two years later, and Craven returned to pen the third film in the hope it would bring the series to a satisfying end. The film was a success, and is considered the best sequel in the franchise (unfortunately for Craven this meant that another film would be on the cards). It was praised for it’s special effects, the comedic tone that was incorporated into the Freddy Krueger character, and the return of Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), the original’s protagonist.