Liam Neeson is hitting theaters again this weekend with another huge action movie. In Run All Night, Neeson continues his second life in Hollywood as a man out to protect his family from a ruthless killer (this time played by Ed Harris).
Of course, Neeson once starred as one of cinema’s best dramatic actors before appearing in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and then starting his latest run as the action star of the ages – almost this generation’s Charles Bronson.
With Neeson headed back to the big screen for another explosive movie, the staff of Renegade Cinema sat down to talk about their favorite Liam Neeson movies.
Derek Ciapala: Watching Liam Neeson play an intelligent villain in such a landmark movie in the Batman franchise was important to me as a moviegoer and a fan. It was also significant considering there were plenty of question marks surrounding the decision to put Al Ghul in the movie as the opening villain.
Caleb Masters: Liam Neeson is a truly exceptional actor whose career has had a bizarre number of twists and turns. His turn as Oskar Schindler is probably one of most powerful of any WWII era set film and his small but pivotal role as Priest Fallon in Gangs of New York is a cameo I’ll never forget. He’s trained Batman and Obi-Wan Kenobi and even the Narnia Christ figure Aslan.
My personal favorite was his turn as Henry Ducard/ Raas Al Ghul in Batman begins because we got to two sides of Neeson’s coin. He’s a father you love and don’t want to disappoint, but he’s also a man with a drive and agenda to rid the world of crime. His methods are terrifying, but there’s something about his noble ambition you have to respect.
Caliber Winfield: An absolute masterpiece. Luc Besson, the action movie God behind Transporter, Kiss of the Dragon, The Professional, 5th Element, and Unleashed does what’s best in the action genre, and always garners the best results: keeps it simple. What better than the story of a retired CIA agent whose daughter is taken by the scum of the universe, and he has to go in and get her back? So simple, but so fantastic and well done. You have villains you want to see die, and a hero you not only want to succeed, but watch how he does it. One of the greatest films of all time. Unfortunately, the sequels didn’t live up. But that’s alright, as we’ll always have Taken.
Derek Johns: No offense to Liam Neeson’s action movie renaissance, but I still believe his best movie and performance is Schindler’s List. Despite all the film’s Oscar wins, I still think the Academy sold this one short by snubbing both Neeson and Ralph Fiennes (who gave a vastly underrated villain performance).
The emotional moment for me is near the end when despite all of Schindler’s successful efforts to keep his workers alive while at the same time being labelled as a Nazi war criminal, he still feels ashamed that he couldn’t do more.
Sandi Davis: I was lucky enough to interview Liam Nelson several times, including a chat about his role in Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace and as Oskar Schindler in Schindler’s List.
Even though he’s now considered an action hero, my favorite role by the tall Irish actor is that of widower Daniel in 2003’s Love Actually. After one of the greatest funeral scenes ever, Daniel is left raising his late wife’s son. Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who falls in love with an American classmate.
While Daniel jokes that the only woman he’d consider dating or marrying is Claudia Schiffer, he guides Sam through the labyrinth of first love, and in the end, both get what they wish for.
Bethany Lewis: I’m gonna go with The Grey. Not only is the movie itself surprisingly good despite its ridiculous sounding premise, but Neeson takes special care with his role as the purposeless survival specialist who is suddenly tasked with the job of protecting his fellow passengers is the Alaskan wild after a plane crash. I thought it would be crazy and over the top like the Taken movies, but I left the theater with more than that – an existential meditation on purpose and human nature. When you strip a man of everything and return him to the starkness of nature, it is the true essence of the man that remains – the question is, who will that man be?
Shawn S. Lealos: I have always been a Sam Raimi fan, and long before he got to make Spider-Man, he got the chance to make his own original superhero movie with Dark Man. This was during Neeson’s first career transition, when he was going from some lighter action movies into a phase where he went very serious for a number of years. However, in Darkman, Neeson was as crazed and over-the-top as you could imagine as he sought revenge for the men who scarred him and tried to kill him.
“I’m everyone – and no one. Everywhere – nowhere. Call me… Darkman.”