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Posts Tagged ‘Liam Neeson’

The Marksman

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

THE MARKSMAN is one of this year’s Liam Neeson (THE DEAD POOL) Old Man Action movies. It came out on disc a month or two ago and had played in theaters in January, wherever it is that those were open at that time. It’s one of the rare theatrical releases if this era that did not get delayed by the pandemic – in fact they pushed it up one week. Had things been normal I definitely would’ve seen it at an early afternoon showing at Pacific Place with four or five other loners in the theater and I would’ve been satisfied as I walked out after the credits ended and the young man with the garbage can at the door told me to have a good day as I emerged from the quiet auditorium to the cheesy narrator promoting the A-List on recordings in the lobby.

(Sorry – I wrote this review before I’d been back to theaters, must’ve been getting nostalgic.)

Neeson plays a very fictionalized version of Jim Henson called Jim Hanson. He’s a Vietnam vet who lives right next to the Mexican border and has recently run out of money because of his late wife’s cancer treatments. Aside from one drunken scene where he does a really good low grumbly voice, it’s the standard Neeson accent, but he’s so All-American he literally has an American flag draped over his shoulder when a guy from the bank (Alex Knight, Narcos: Mexico) shows up to tell him his ranch might be taken from him. I like the little bit that Jim tells him he spread his wife’s ashes on the hill over there and the guy says “I’m sorry for your loss.” Trying to seem humane without even following what he’s talking about.

Jim is the kind of guy who has a walkie-talkie to call in what he calls “I.A.s” crossing his property. But at least he’s the kind who will bring water and call for a medic for one who gets left behind. (read the rest of this shit…)

Cold Pursuit

Monday, February 11th, 2019

COLD PURSUIT – which could be called HELLY HANSEN PRESENTS ‘COLD PURSUIT’ in my opinion – is an odd duck of a Liam Neeson vehicle. His character Nelson “Nels” Coxman is a man with a very particular set of skills, but they mostly involve driving a snow plow. He lives a simple life in a big house in a tiny ski resort town 3 and a quarter miles from Denver, Colorado. It’s one of those places where people have to be kinda rugged but they’re also laid back and individualistic. It’s always cold outside so they mostly just find ways to relax in their big houses. Nels’s wife Grace (Laura Dern, WILD AT HEART) smokes a joint while cooking up some meat from the reindeer that Nels and their son Kyle (Micheal Richardson, VOX LUX) hunted a while back.

Nels is a little nervous about having to make a speech after winning Citizen of the Year. Otherwise they seem to have a nice comfortable lifestyle going when all the sudden Kyle turns up dead – we know he was murdered by drug dealers, but the coroner (Jim Shield, SHANGHAI NOON, who looks like a more hard living Chris Pine) says it was a heroin overdose. Nels is so broken up he puts a shotgun in his mouth but when he’s interrupted by Kyle’s bloodied and apologetic friend Dante (Wesley MacInnes, POWER RANGERS) and learns what really happened, it’s not long before he’s sawing off said shotgun to fit in his jacket and go trying to find the people responsible. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Commuter

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Liam Neeson is… The Commuter, starring in his self-titled, totally solid addition to the catalog of Neeson vehicles directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (UNKNOWN, NON-STOP, RUN ALL NIGHT). Written by previously unknown Byron Willinger and Philip de Blasi, this is a gimmicky suspense thriller taking place almost entirely in the limited location of a New York City commuter train, but it manages to also mix in a couple of impressive action exclamation points, not to mention the director’s endlessly playful computer-assisted camera show-offery.

The Commuter is Michael McCauley, an ex-cop who is suddenly fired from his current job at an insurance company, and then finds himself under siege in dark territory on the ride home. It’s the train he’s been riding for ten years, and most of the passengers know him by name, make small talk with him and ask about his wife (Elizabeth McGovern, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, CLASH OF THE TITANS) and kid (Dean-Charles Chapman, Game of Thrones). The usual sameness of his mornings is cleverly illustrated in an opening scene that shows him getting up, having breakfast, talking to the family and getting dropped off at the train, jaggedly cutting between seasons, emotions and conversations to show the passage of time without interrupting the flow of the daily routine. (read the rest of this shit…)

Widows

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

When last we heard from director Steve McQueen U.K., his movie 12 YEARS A SLAVE had won best picture. Five years later he finally has a followup, and it’s a violent, artfully crafted heist movie. Now you’re earning that name, my friend.

It’s credited as “based on ‘Widows’ by Lynda La Plante,” which seems to refer to the 1983 ITV mini-series, though there’s also a book version that says “SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE” on the cover, and I have found no definitive answer as to which La Plante wrote first. Anyway, McQueen adapted whatever it was he adapted with Gillian Flynn of GONE GIRL (both book and movie) fame.

Liam Neeson (THE DEAD POOL), Jon Bernthal (THE ACCOUNTANT), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO) and Coburn Goss (MAN OF STEEL) star as a Chicago-based crew of highly skilled, even highlier armed and armoured robber motherfuckers in the vein of HEAT or L.A. TAKEDOWN or DEN OF THIEVES or POINT BREAK or POINT BREAK REMAKE. And by “star” I mean for a couple minutes at the very beginning we see a tiny bit of their heist intercut with them saying goodbye to their wives beforehand and then they get blown up. You barely even see that last guy’s face. Because this is not about dudes like that. It’s about their loved ones who have to clean up their mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Battleship

Monday, August 28th, 2017

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

May 18, 2012

Let’s say you are a pretty decent commercial Hollywood filmmaker and you have accepted the conventional wisdom that you are now living in a “brand” and “i.p.” culture, a world where studios only want to make – and people only want to see – movies based on famous titles of TV shows and comic books and things that they remember from before. And let’s say that the toy company Hasbro has stumbled into running a movie production company after Michael Bay turned their Transformers toys into a gigantic movie franchise. And that now they are convinced they can do the same thing with the classic board game Battleship.

Well, that actually happened one time to Peter Berg (THE RUNDOWN), who had not directed a movie for a couple years after his not-brand-based Summer Fling HANCOCK floundered in 2008, and his response was “Why not?” Or maybe “I guess?” or perhaps “Okay. Fine.” Since the game is very simple, with no story or characters and I’d say less than five identifiable characteristics that would need to be used in an adaptation, he and screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber (RED 1 and 2) could just use it as a fake name to slap onto an expensive wannabe blockbuster than any sane person would know was gonna be broadly rejected only because of the board game name that they didn’t need to put on it. But that’s life.

(“The Game of Life” by the way is also owned by Hasbro.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Run All Night

Monday, March 16th, 2015

tn_runallnightAlthough he’d already done HOUSE OF WAX and GOAL II: LIVING THE DREAM, it was ORPHAN that brought director Jaume Collet-Serra to my attention. I gotta admire a director whose movie I go to thinking I’m gonna be all ironical on it and then it defeats me with its audacity and genuine cleverness. So far that’s the height of his output, but I keep going back.

I guess I’d be watching them anyway, because his ORPHAN follow up has been three Liam Neeson vehicles in a row. UNKNOWN was a somewhat forgettable twisty thriller with some good touches here and there. Apparently I forgot to even post a review of it, but the part I remember liking best was some awkwardness between Neeson and Diane Kruger where they laugh because they’re in her small apartment and hear sex noises from next door, and that turns out to be set-up that her walls are thin enough for him to throw a guy through. NON-STOP was more my speed, a fun take on a confined-location-high-concept with some pretty interesting political subtext. Now the third one, RUN ALL NIGHT, takes the collaboration in a different direction. There’s less emphasis on the thrillery gimmicks and more on the character drama.

Oh, hey, this might explain it: it’s a screenplay by Brad Ingelsby, the guy that wrote OUT OF THE FURNACE. That’s another movie that uses badass genre elements but is more interested in exploring relationships than in satisfying expectations. (Though this one does have shootouts and car crashes.) (read the rest of this shit…)

Taken 3

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

tn_taken3Unfortunately TAKEN 3 is an uninspired new sausage from the Besson/Kamen factory. Liam Neeson’s ruthless ex-CIA family man character Bryan Mills returns for his first adventure not related to the endless circle of violence caused by his daughter getting kidnapped on a trip to Europe. This time it’s the go-to action movie bad guys of today, the Russian mafia (see also THE EQUALIZER, JOHN WICK, SAFE, DRIVEN TO KILL) who (SPOILER THAT’S IN THE TRAILER) kill poor Lenore (Famke Janssen), Mills’s ex-wife and mother of Kim (Maggie Grace) and who he sort of still has a thing for. The cops show up and it kinda looks like he did it so he beats them up and goes on the run so that he can prove that he didn’t do what it now really really looks like he did.

Even more than part 1 and part 2, part 3 leans heavily on the non-action movie family stuff. There’s a whole lot of time spent showing that he has a good relationship now with his daughter and ex-wife and gets along with his daughter’s boyfriend and tries to help Lenore with her problems with her second husband Stuart (Dougray Scott). I guess at this point I sort of have to admire that Besson cares so much about these characters, or thinks we do, but it’s not like this is real deep observations about relationships. And besides, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY will always be the definitive action sequel where an old asskicker gives a giant teddy bear to a female relative and it’s awkward because she’s way too old for it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Trailer: Darkman vs. Ghost Dog

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I like this series. Never as good as I want it to be, but not as frustrating as THE EXPENDABLESes. Neeson gets to be awesome and talk real serious on phones, Besson gets to throw in some ridiculousness, there’s a little bit of interesting subtext. So I’m glad they’re still going (even if implying through the medium of taglines that this is the last one).

It’s kinda sad to see (SPOILER FOR TRAILER) poor Famke getting Kerseyed here, but wise to take the series in a totally different direction. Obviously it’s kind of a play on THE FUGITIVE, complete with a part where he walks through a water pipe in case you didn’t pick up on it. I guess the idea is “what if instead of an everyman or Wesley Snipes THE FUGITIVE happened to the greatest leather jacket wearing black ops badass of our time? WHAT THEN?”

I hope he jumps down from the pipe while talking on a phone! That would be a good mix of FUGITIVE and TAKEN.

The director is Olivier Megaton again, not my favorite. But TAKEN 2 and COLOMBIANA were both much better than TRANSPORTER 3, so I don’t write him off.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

tn_tombstonesSometimes a man just has to walk among the tombstones, you know? Stroll within the grave markers. Saunter betwixt the memorials. Seagal did it in PISTOL WHIPPED and now my man Liam Neeson (THE DEAD POOL) is taking a turn. He’s doing it in a mystery thriller based on book #10 in a series by Lawrence Block. The movie version is written and directed by Scott Frank, the guy that wrote OUT OF SIGHT, so it’s more about capturing that crime novel feel than being another Neeson vehicle like UNKNOWN or NON-STOP. That said, he is allowed to be awesome, and there are some scuffles.

Admittedly the opening scene is better than anything else in the movie. It’s a flashback to 1991, but has a ’70s feel. Stringy-haired, racial-slur-using asshole police detective Matthew Scudder (Neeson) walks into an empty bar where cops get free drinks. And this is how you know he sucks: the bartender greets him by name, and he doesn’t even say hi or look at him. He just knocks on the counter and then sits down at a booth with his back to him. Fuck you, man! I guarantee you this prick doesn’t tip either. (read the rest of this shit…)

Non-Stop

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

tn_nonstopSo far I think I like the idea of Liam Neeson action vehicles more than the actual execution of them. Both TAKENs were fun, but with post-actiony scuffles and not as tight of storytelling as I prefer in a formula revenge movie. UNKNOWN from what I remember was kinda fun, but what was it about again? He was playing an amnesiac I believe? Yeah, that’s about how I feel about that one.

By far my favorite of this cycle is THE GREY, but that’s because it was all about manly drama. Most of the actual action (anything involving wolves) was as indecipherable as they come. So I came to his new airplane suspense thriller (from UNKNOWN director Jaume Collet-Serra) pretty jaded, but I enjoyed it more than expected.

(read the rest of this shit…)