Top 5 Liam Neeson Movies
Following the surprise success of 2008’s straight-forward kidnap thriller Taken, Liam Neeson has undergone a rebirth of sorts in recent years. After several supporting mentor-type roles, we have received a welcome reminder that Neeson is still just as capable of carrying out bruising lead-roles all by himself. So in preparation for his latest outing in Jaume Collet-Serra’s airbourne thriller Non-Stop, Movie Rehab invites you to revisit the very best of the Irishman’s back catalogue. Here are my top picks from Neeson’s career so far.
5. The Mission
I would not have thought of this choice as controversial, yet not a single vote did it receive from one of my more popular Twitter polls of recent times. Roland Joffe’s beautiful picture of Christian colonisation in South America tells a unique story of old and new rivalries with moral questions of religion being asked throughout. Although fronted by Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro, Neeson plays an integral role as a brave and honest priest who is forced to make difficult decisions for the future of his followers. Shot on location in the gorgeous rain-forests of South America and matched with an equally mesmerising score by Ennio Morricone, The Mission sneaks into this list as being a memorable and powerful cinematic experience.
4. Michael Collins
When putting a true story on screen, it is always important to appease the primary sources of the events as much as the world’s cinema-goers. Neil Jordan’s film of the Irish fight for independence in the early 20th century achieves this, albeit with a little melodrama on the way. Neeson powerfully portrays the film’s stubborn yet honourable title character, who leads a rebellion which spans several years in the fight for an Irish republic. Suitably making use of a variety of great Irish actors (Bar Alan Rickman and the desperately out of place Julia Roberts), Jordan brings an authentic and entirely believable feel to life in Ireland during a historic time of great conflict. One of the better historical biopics of the last twenty years.
3. Gangs of New York
Easily one of Martin Scorsese’s most ambitious projects, this 19th century depiction of the Big Apple probably stand out for most due to the scene-stealing Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting. It also marks the beginning of the now firmly-established Scorsese-DiCaprio partnership. However, there is a lot to be said for the supporting cast of this picture which includes Neeson’s second performance as a priest on this list. His exchanges with The Butcher in the opening scenes establish the tone for what is a ferociously violent picture while setting the story in motion at a pulsating pace. A minor role surely, but effective enough to earn a solid place on this list.
2. Batman Begins
It is true that Neeson once trained Obi-Wan Kenobi and led the A-Team, but it is the scenes he shares with Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s rousing Batman trilogy-opener that stand out as the most memorable of his mentor roles in recent years. By guiding Bruce Wayne on his path towards the life of a vigilante, Neeson oozes class in a role that is more than what it seems. A standout picture in the Batman canon, as well as being a significant step forward for the superhero genre as a whole.
1. Schindler’s List
It would seem that if you do not have Steven Spielberg’s harrowing classic on your list, it simply means you have not yet seen it. There is very little more that can be said about Spielberg’s Oscar-winning masterpiece other than the praise I must heap upon Neeson’s performance as Oskar Schindler, a man who helped save the lives of a number of the Jewish workforce during the times of Nazi persecution during World War II. Much of his performance lies in the horror that sweeps over his face as he bears witness to some of the most inhumane acts of brutality ever recorded in the history of mankind. Neeson’s sad eyes reflect this in every scene, yet we are still encouraged to get behind him when he fights to make a difference. A true work of art. See it now.
So do you agree with my ramblings or feel that I haven’t done Mr. Neeson justice?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below or share your views with me here:
As for the twitter poll, there was a slight difference of opinion…
4. Gangs of New York
2. Batman Begins
1. Schindler’s List
Thanks to everyone who tweeted their lists, make sure to send your views on the next one as we celebrate the late great Harold Ramis.