To be fair, even though he is set to appear in the new Men In Black instalment, Liam Neeson has stated this is his last foray into the action movie genre which he really became noted for after the global popularity of a ripper of a thriller, Taken.
In 2008, the cinematic world was seemingly unprepared to be introduced to Bryan Mills sternly talking into a telephone down the line with an unknown assailant. “I don’t know who you are but if you don’t let my daughter go, I will find you, I will kill you.” Not only a terrific character was born, but an entire genre began for Irish legend Liam Neeson.
Spawning two sequels, Taken also created a series of variable in quality and logic action thrillers including one of my favourites, Non Stop (2014). At 66, he may not do absolutely all of his own stunts, the agile actor still is fit enough to convincingly run, jump, fight and make love. Oscar nominee for Schindler’s List (1993), Liam is also a reliable name within any cast list. Ireland set IRA drama, A Prayer for the Dying, with Mickey Rourke and Bob Hoskins really set the ball rolling.
Earlier in his Hollywood career, action roles were not as prevalent as the hard boiled ex CIA operative Mills. However appearing opposite Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry film The Dead Pool (1988), playing homage to universal monsters as Darkman (1990), or as the brother of Patrick Swayze in Next of Kin (1989), and let’s not forget a terrific guest spot on Miami Vice (1986) after an extraordinary part in The Mission (1986). Rather not talk about more recent would-be actioner’s Clash of the Titans or Battleship, both of which were subdued roles around so-called fantasy exerscion.
Overshadowed at the time, literally by Braveheart (filming on the opposite side of their mountain location), his biographical turn in Rob Roy (1995) had medieval action traits. Then of course starting in 1999, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, introduced us to Qui-Gon Jinn. Three years before Taken, auteur Christopher Nolan reimagined the caped crusader in Batman Begins (2005) showcasing Neeson martial arts skills to full effect among other things. Now with Cold Pursuit, on this occasion he takes revenge on a drug cartel responsible for his son’s death.
The trick is Liam’s character Nels Coxman, a snowplough driver who has had the same job, driven the same road, received citizen of the year; that kind of thing. So his quiet routine turns into a growing body count in a variety of obscure ways with a touch of black comedy. Freezing Canadian locations play a big part naturally, while the final confrontation is a combustible delight. It’s not pretty, victims are dealt with accordingly, not for the squeamish. Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, co-star with considerable impact. Based on a 2014 Norwegian film, this is solid entertainment.
COLD PURSUIT (Rated MA – 118 min) is now showing in cinemas.
Some of the action man roles that came his way after original TAKEN plus sequels; some better than others, all worth it for Liam kicking ass.
THE COMMUTER (2018) – Ex cop now insurance salesman dragged into an ultimatum on a peak hour train in which he travels on day in, day out.
THE GREY (2011) – Plane crashes into snowbound Alaskan wilderness. Survivors, all oil workers, are tracked by a rather large hungry wolfpack.
NON STOP (2014) – On a routine flight, a sleek air marshall is told to deposit 150 million into a secret account or random passengers will die.
THE A-TEAM (2010) – War veterans band together to freedom fight for causes outside of Federal Jurisdiction. Dumb logic masks sky-high-jinks.
RUN ALL NIGHT (2015) – Accurate hit man mobster has to decide on gangster loyalties when his son is embroiled in a chase to the death.
WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (2014) – Not traditionally an action tale although private investigation Neeson style has spurts of brutality.
Shane A. Bassett