As we prepare for Liam Neeson’s latest action film Non-Stop, a movie in which an entire plane full of people learn it’s not a good idea to mess with Liam Neeson, it seems like an opportune time to inventory the many reasons why this is a guy you’re better off leaving alone. Just in case you were thinking about maybe lifting his wallet or something.
Even His Superhero Is Lethal
After Evil Dead II and before Spider-Man, Sam Raimi made an R-rated superhero movie called Darkman. For those who have yet to see it, Darkman is not a nice superhero. He has severe rage issues and unlike wimps like Batman, does not hesitate to kill his enemies. A lot. To help make sure everyone knows this character’s severity, Sam Raimi wisely cast Liam Neeson in the role. Because Liam Neeson does not play around.
He Was in a Dirty Harry Movie
Not just anyone can be in a Dirty Harry movie. You have to be a little dirty yourself. And Liam Neeson qualifies. Unfortunately, his character has no violent interactions with hothead cop Harry Callahan, but he does direct a young Jim Carrey as he lip-synchs to Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle.” And that has to count for something.
His Rob Roy Meant Business
Braveheart (well, William Wallace, but I like just calling him Braveheart) was already the Scottish Braveheart, but Rob Roy is kind of the other Scottish Braveheart. Or maybe Braveheart is the other Scottish Rob Roy. In any case, Rob Roy finds Liam Neeson squaring off against a brutal and cruel Tim Roth. Not that Tim Roth supplies the most physical adversary, but power is on his side, while Rob Roy gets by on little more than the tenacity of being Liam Neeson. Guess who wins.
He Stood Up Against Bill “The Butcher” Cutting
For all its problems, Gangs of New York features one of the most compelling movie villains ever: Daniel Day-Lewis’ Bill “The Butcher” Cutter. The film opens with a big fight between Cutter and Liam Neeson’s “Priest” Vallon. Unfortunately, Vallon ends up falling to the Butcher, but he certainly gave him a run for his money. It takes a dangerous man to have such a dangerous adversary.
He Survived the Prequels with Most of His Dignity Intact
It’s not easy to make it through the Star Wars prequels with your head held high. Liam Neeson managed to pull it off, partly because he was only in one film, partly because his Qui-Gon Jinn is one of the cooler-looking Jedi in the series, and partly because we were mostly distracted by Jar Jar Binks.
He Trained Batman
Ra’s al Ghul was one of Batman’s less flamboyant villains to begin with, but Liam Neeson further grounded the character in Christopher Nolan’s first – and least flashy by a mile – Batman film. Through Liam Neeson’s tutelage, Bruce Wayne goes from a whiny rich boy to a whiny rich ninja man. It’s kind of sad the two ninjas weren’t able to remain pals.
He Has a Very Particular Set of Skills
Liam Neeson’s Taken character has a very particular problem. His daughter (and estranged wife) keeps getting taken by bad guys. But that’s okay. He also has a very particular set of skills, most of which involve tracking down bad guys who take people. So you can take his daughter all you want. He doesn’t mind. It gives him an excuse to travel.
He Loves It When a Plan Comes Together
Maybe you’re one of those unlucky souls who has yet to see The A-Team. The film is a sadly underrated action comedy that everyone should check out at least once. While the ensemble cast deserves credit all around, Liam Neeson’s hammy version of Hannibal lends the film a solid rock from which all kinds of wacky antics ensue while also managing to contribute a fair amount of wacky antics himself.
He Is an Experienced God
Most actors consider themselves lucky if they get to play one god in their career. Liam Neeson has played a couple. In the Chronicles of Narnia films his voice gives regal dignity to Aslan the lion. But that’s nothing. He got to be Zeus in both Clash and Wrath of the Titans. You seriously don’t want to mess with a guy with manly gusto enough to say “Release the Kraken” and not sound silly.
Not Even a Hungry Pack of Wolves Can Take Him Out
The Grey is a movie about a lot of things: masculinity, fear, the thrill of battle. But at its core, it’s a movie about a bunch of scary wolves trying to hunt down and eat Liam Neeson. One by one, his companions fall, but Neeson keeps moving. When the time comes for a final showdown between Liam Neeson and the almost supernaturally large alpha wolf, he binds broken bottles to his knuckles and gets to business.
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