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Weekend Binge: Here are the top 5 movies of Liam Neeson’s action career, because it’s over now

With the release of The Commuter this week, let’s take a look at the best Liam Neeson action movies.

weekend binge Updated: Jan 25, 2018 10:14 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times
Liam Neeson,Liam Neeson Movies,Liam Neeson Action Movies
Liam Neeson has managed to produce one legitimate masterpiece in his action movie phase - The Grey.

Every week, we will curate a collection of titles - movies, TV, general miscellanea - for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks - which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.

While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events - it could be the release of a new movie, or show - we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.

Liam Neeson is 65-years-old. Let that fact simmer in your brain through the entire duration of this week’s piece. With the release of The Commuter - a bittersweet occasion to be sure - Neeson has pledged that he will never - at least such time as enough money is thrown his way - do an action movie again. Now, to many of you, that might sound like good news - Neeson is, let’s not forget, a formidably talented actor, whose career as a performer in serious dramas was somewhat sidelined in favour of a quick buck - but in my opinion, it’s what he was born to do.

And happily, although he blossomed late in life - strictly as far as action is concerned, mind you - he made the most of it, appearing in at least one action movie a year. So whittling this list down to the top 5 wasn’t as easy as you’d think.

Taken

If we’re being completely honest, Taken would’ve found a place on this list even if it wasn’t as good as it is - and it is very, very good - simply based on the affect it has had on Neeson’s career, and the industry at large. It’s the Dark Knight of elderly action hero movies, in that it inspired a new wave of similar thrillers - everyone from Kevin Costner to Pierce Brosnan to Denzel Washington have tried their hands at it, and none of them came close. Cheers, Liam Neeson.

The A-Team

The A-Team is a blast from start to finish, but most films by director Joe Carnahan are, including and especially the one we’ll talk about next. It’s also the only film on this list that truly deserved a sequel - more than Taken even, which got two. But it didn’t get the audience it deserved, which is perfect, because now you know.

The Grey

The Grey arrived a few years into the Neesonnaisance, which worked both for and against it. By then, people were sort of on board with this new phase in Neeson’s career, but while that guaranteed a solid opening weekend, no one was quite prepared for what they were about to see. The Grey is a dark, existentialist survival epic about a suicidal man having a crisis of faith - a description that couldn’t be further removed from Taken’s (ex-CIA agent’s daughter gets kidnapped). It is by far the best film on this list, which was unfortunately sold as the ‘Liam Neeson punches wolves in the face movie’.

Non-Stop

Another key player in Neeson’s late-career bloom is director Jaume Collet-Serra, who’s made four movies with the star, including The Commuter. It’s fitting that the duo chose to end this hugely successful streak together. Of all the movies they made, Non-Stop is perhaps the most ingenious, combining the intricate plotting of an Agatha Christie locked room mystery (it’s set on a plane) with the twisty structure of a Hitchcock film.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Agreed, it’s a stretch to call A Walk Among the Tombstones an action movie - it has two action scenes at best - but it certainly deserves a mention here. It’s more of a noir cop drama, featuring yet another underrated performance by Neeson. It is also a darker film than most on this list, perhaps excluding The Grey, and can get particularly harrowing in a couple of scenes that involve violence against women. But under the direction of Scott Frank (he did the fantastic Netflix series Godless recently), A Walk Among the Tombstones is a surprisingly delicate film.

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The author tweets @RohanNaahar

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 08:53 IST