We take a look back at Liam Neeson’s ten best films, from Taken to Schindler’s List, over the course of his long career.
It’s been over four decades since Liam Neeson’s acting career began. Drama, horror, musicals, romance, comedies, and action are just some of the many genres in which the blockbuster titan has dabbled. Because Liam Neeson continues to widen his comfort zone, he has retained his A-list star status, even becoming a bona fide action star long into his 50s with the ever-popular Taken in 2008.
Why does the actor have so many followers from so many various demographics? To say that the actor is versatile would be an understatement. We decided to take a look at the iconic actor’s career and narrow it down to the ten best films he has made since 1978.
It’s a challenge to narrow down a filmography with 137 actor credits to only ten films. Every frame of Neeson’s film demonstrates that he’s a workaholic. Because he has worked with some of the world’s greatest directors, like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, it’s no surprise. This list illustrates Liam Neeson’s universal appeal, and it’s a good one.
Liam Neeson had acted in Darkman, a superhero film with monster-like proportions, before he was cast as Batman Begins’ Batman. Neeson plays Dr. Peyton Wilder, a doctor who takes on the role of Darkman in Sam Raimi’s homage to Universal monster flicks. Since Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise and Tim Burton’s Batman had been such commercial successes the year before, Universal took a chance on an unknown performer like Liam Neeson. The character of Dr. Wilder in Neeson’s Dr. Wilder is raucous, unpredictable, and noisy. It’s a treat to see it again.
9. The Grey
Liam Neeson and the Arctic Wolves may look like an action picture at first glance; nevertheless its dark comedy about death and life’s impermanence is actually a profound study on both. The Grey, Liam Neeson’s debut step into the action genre, was shot under conditions as gruesome as the wolves’ attacks on the film’s protagonists. Neeson nailed his portrayal despite filming for seven hours a night in -35 degree cold with constantly freezing cameras, actors, and crew. “Once more into the fray,” he cries as the film’s central vocal motif. into the final good fight of my life. It’s a day of life and death. It’s either live or die today.” With such subtlety, the spectator feels as if they’re in the Alaskan Arctic, where temperatures can drop to minus 30 degrees.
8. A Monster Calls
Liam Neeson plays the monster in A Monster Calls, and his growling, deep voice is ideal for the role. It’s as near as any picture on our list comes to being a family film, with Neeson’s tree monster, simply referred to as “The Monster,” serving as a sounding board and vehicle for the youngster in the film to deal with his dying mother during her chemotherapy treatments. Neeson gives one of his best performances yet in this tale of allegory, childhood fantasy, and escapism.
This movie’s famous “I will find you” monologue has probably been quoted by you or someone you know, or heard it in numerous pop culture parodies. In Taken, Liam Neeson portrays a dad who, when his daughter is kidnapped, goes on a killing rampage as a lone vigilante in order to rescue her. It’s the movie that made Liam Neeson a household name in the action genre and inspired two more films in the series. It’s hard to argue that this film isn’t the best of the trilogy, simply because audiences hadn’t seen Neeson’s raw physicality, furious vocal tone, and exploding fury in action movies before.
6. Honest Thief
Liam Neeson stars in the FBI controversy in Honest Thief. Neeson’s Tom Dolan, a former soldier and wanted bank robber, makes a deal with the FBI, only to be duped when the agents who capture him seek the money he’s hidden away. The excitement of breaking the law was more important to Dolan than the money. All the components for a fantastic Neeson action movie: fist fights, car chases, and surprising explosions. Of course, the veteran actor always comes out on top. Neeson’s ability to carry the film was frequently praised in the reviews.
5. The Marksman
When Jim Hanson (Liam Neeson), an ex-Marine and farmer in Arizona, becomes a guardian for an escaped Mexican kidnapper, he is thrust into a tense political situation. In order to come to terms with the damage he’s done, Jim chooses to take the little child to his family in Chicago, where he’ll spend time with them. Despite its dark subject matter, The Marksman is a story of hope and redemption. Neeson’s character, the quiet farmer-turned-badass guardian, is typical of Neeson’s action roles; he’s willing to put his life on the line for justice.
4. The Ice Road
Ice road truckers, the subject of a hugely successful television show, had to be the subject of a thriller. And Liam Neeson leading the cast was well received by both fans and critics. It is the story of an ice driver who sets out on an impossible rescue mission after a diamond mine in a remote area of Canada collapsed. As the water thaws and dishonest insurance company agents move in on him, Neeson must cross an icy sea in order to rescue miners trapped in the catastrophe. Neeson’s character, who suffers from both post-traumatic stress disorder and aphasia, is somber yet resolute.
3. Batman Begins
Batman Begins, the first film in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, introduced a fresh, gritty approach to the superhero genre that would be emulated in subsequent films. Liam Neeson’s portrayal of DC Comics villain Ra’s al Ghul was both heartfelt and calculating. Even the young Bruce Wayne is intimidated by Neeson’s screen presence, who stands at a towering 6’4″. It also helps that Neeson’s performance is laced with a healthy dose of fighting prowess and biting one-liners. In the last installment of the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, he would reprise the role of Bruce Wayne.
Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver play 17th-century Jesuit priests who go to Japan to rescue their mentor, played by Liam Neeson, in Silence, a 159-minute thriller inspired on the true story. Neeson’s performance is restrained. As a cautionary story about the dangers of missionaries overstepping their bounds, Scorsese’s character, who rejected Jesus, became a Buddhist, and inherited a Japanese family from killed Japanese Christian men, is depicted in the film. During the grueling filming period, Neeson shed approximately 20 pounds. Despite the fact that Silence isn’t one of Scorsese’s most successful films, the fact that he cast Neeson as one of its primary characters speaks volumes.
1. Schindler’s List
Schindler’s List, based on the true tale of Oskar Schindler, is one of Steven Spielberg’s most critically acclaimed films, making Liam Neeson a star. To save as many Jews as possible from concentration camps, Schindler built a factory employing Jewish vital employees, forged a close relationship with the SS Nazis, and ultimately prevented Jews from being transferred from the city of Brünnlitz to Auschwitz. It is Spielberg’s usage of black and white and red to underline Neeson’s portrayal of Schindler’s change of heart that makes this film so effective. With his nuanced facial expressions and soft-spoken voice, Liam Neeson plays a guy without a clear sense of right and wrong.
No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s farewell excursion as James Bond, may have received some skepticism, but it has already become the year’s most popular Hollywood film.