OK, even as I write the above headline I have to admit…. no. In fact, no offense, but Liam Neeson probably doesn’t make the top 25 – maybe even the top 50. Actually, lets narrow in on the top 100 greatest actors. I’m really confident he makes that cut. But of course we could debate the issue.
But here’s one thing I am sure of. Liam Neeson is the biggest bad ass actor currently working in film, one of the “toughest tough guys” in movie history, and always a great addition to a film. He’s not a cartoon tough guy like most action stars. You won’t see him acting all “Stallone” with pithy tough guy remarks. He won’t climb buildings and karate chop bad guys like Tom Cruise. And he even out ”tough guys” the ultimate bad ass – Clint Eastwood. While Clint takes on criminals with a 44 Magnum – Neeson wades into a pack of insane wolves for hand-to-hand combat. He takes on the Nazis in Schindler’s List. In last year’s Taken, he warns his daughter’s captors that they better release her or suffer his “special talents”. Of course they don’t believe him, and he goes all “Jack Bauer” on them - torturing a couple guys -before confidently wiping out an entire room of scary, heavily armed, bald Russian mobsters with a butter knife.
A few weeks ago I rented The Grey. I’m not saying this movie should be a “must see” on your Netflix list, but since my wife was out of town I decided to partake in a “total guys” movie. In The Grey he plays a sniper employed by an oil company in Alaska. His job is to shoot wolves that randomly attack oil rig workers. Somehow I doubt that job really exists. I think if wolves had declared war on mankind and were randomly attacking groups of men there would be an even bigger call to hunt them, buts lets suspend disbelief for the movies. After shooting a few wolves he then survives a horrific plane crash that kills most of his fellow passengers. Then he lead the survivors through a blinding snow storm for a couple days as packs of killer wolves pick them off one at a time. Finally after scaling a 300 foot canyon on a rope made of “tied together underwear” he is swept down a freezing river. He then duct tapes jagged broken mini-booze bottles to his fingers (isn’t duct tape a wonderful invention) and sets out for a fight to the death with a massive grey wolf. Try that, Chuck Norris!
The 60-year-old native of Belfast, Ireland started his career working as a truck driver, teacher, and amateur boxer before becoming an actor. He acted in the theatre before the movies discovered him in 1981 with a role in Excalibur. Since then he has been Zeus in Clash of the Titans, Rob Roy, the leader of The A Team, Michael Collins, and a Russian submarine captain. Neeson works a lot. In fact, he currently has five movies scheduled for release in the next two years (including Taken 2 – for some reason everyone around Liam’s character tends to get kidnapped), and I am going to make a prediction that absolutely none of them will be “chick flicks” with Liam getting in touch with his feelings.
But perhaps Liam should try to expand his audience. As you get older it gets a lot tougher to pull off “tough guy” roles, and maybe Liam could extend his reach a bit as he moves through middle age. Here’s an idea for a film that might help expand his career with families:
Taken 3 – The Walt Disney Version. How about an animated Liam Neeson movie to appeal to families, with Liam playing his famous character battling an animated donkey with voice-over by Eddie Murphy? Murphy’s donkey, Hitler, kidnaps Liam’s favorite little pony, Mr. Pibbs, played by Justin Beeber. Liam warns Hitler that he better bring back cute Mr. Pibbs or suffer the consequences. “I know how to deal with bad donkeys”, warns Liam, which will become a famous movie line, sort of like “make my day”. Of course, Hitler doesn’t take Liam seriously until he is lasooed and led into a dog food factory, where horrible things occur until Hitler reveals the cave where he has Mr. Pibbs tied up.