Tag Archives: Liam Neeson

Gangs of New York Review

Religious warfare spilling out onto the streets of a fractured America should be a fantastic draw for the great actors of the early 2000s. It was. Gangs of New York has such a strong cast to it and a great director behind it, Martin Scorsese. It is a bold and brash piece that features all the typical treatises and topics of a period piece that sets the Catholic and Protestant forces against one another on the streets of America. Scorsese is keen to guide that scope with some incredible casting choices and a knack for knowing how to handle that. Smooth the egos, set up the right levels of screentime and capture captivating performances from actors getting to grips with a thick and promising screenplay.

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The Grey Review

Difficult it is to convince audiences that the hunt between predator and prey has a layer of respect to it, The Grey tries anyway. As Liam Neeson strokes the wolf he just shot, a teary-eyed Irishman pays his respects through vague narration and some contemplative scenes. Most of the contemplation to be found in The Grey is based on the possibilities of being hounded by wolves and forced to fight them to the death. It is a small-scale disaster piece that relies more on the destruction of man fighting man than it does on the implication of wolves ripping out throats and actively attacking. The roles of predator and prey are not switched, necessarily, because that implies either are going to give up the fight.

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K-19: The Widowmaker Review

Should the meaning of “Widowmaker” mean that this nuclear disaster flick is to leave many widows in waiting, then director Kathryn Bigelow is bang on the money. K-19: The Widowmaker marks her calm before the storm. Before the Academy Award glory, but after the charming action stylings of Point Break. As we board the Soviet submarine, panic is imminent and immediate. We are given a taste of what is to come, and how these captains and crewmates will adapt to the hectic, startling surroundings of this true and terrifying story. But that is that. It is a true story, and should the detail deviate from reality, then Bigelow misses the point. What is her point here, then? Other than to make a palatable action flick.  

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The Ice Road Review

Winter wonderlands are the recent love of Liam Neeson. Had Cold Pursuit satiated his desire to star in colder climates, then there is doubt looming over the mere existence of The Ice Road. Taking the action legend (who promised he’d retire from said genre several times over the past five years) to another vehicle-bound thrill ride, the latest feature from director Jonathan Hensleigh is mired by a desire to cause tightly-driven chaos where its setting provides the random terror of adaptation. Drivers traverse man-made roads over frozen rivers, the opening crawl tells us, and with that, there is danger abound. But it is how this danger is presented and its troubling disconnect, which makes for such an insufferably tedious affair. 

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Non-Stop Review

As Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) sits in his car in the opening moments of Non-Stop, we can see a keen checklist of tropes and cliché carried out. He does it for his daughter. We know little about him. It is raining. But the brooding angles and fixation on the tired and weary face of this once youthful action star are meaningful and tightly choreographed. There are moments of genuine, emotional understanding of this washed-up air marshal, and while the action genre is not ultimately known for its ability to relate engaged emotions to a thriller that finds itself thousands of feet in the air. But a thriller is only as strong as the action it dishes out along the way.  

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Batman Begins Review

Origin stories are no stranger to the world of superhero adaptations. Comic book capers can nary exit the opening minutes of their narrative without murdering a plot device here or strapping a protagonist with a bit of devastating backstory there. At the end of it all, few are as frequently told as that of Batman. Batman Begins is no stranger to the story of Bruce Wayne, his aversion to winged beasts and living parents wheeled out in every iteration the big screen could possibly throw at audiences. As audiences, we find comfort in similar entertainment, and that, to some degree, is the appeal of superheroes. We are told the same story consistently, with a handful of variables found in-between. It is Christopher Nolan’s work with Batman Begins that massages both entertainment value and storytelling prominence, to varying degrees of success.

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Review

As his world crashes around him, the fearful animosity and anger that Ron Burgundy transmitted through the airwaves of the 1970s comes to a close. His reign of terror is over. For a decade, movie-goers were able to enjoy a time of peace and tranquillity, a character based on Mort Crim would be laid to rest. Of course, no good thing can come to an end, nor, it seems, can a mediocre product. It will live forever, shuffling through the minds and hearts of somewhat nostalgic young adults. Their minds unphased by copious drinking and drug use, they are the perfect audience to experience Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. A hefty experience indeed, one whose running time exceeds that of many more rewarding experiences.

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Made in Italy Review

Presumably after the enjoyable sleeper hit that was Ordinary Love, Liam Neeson was keen as ever to prove we can take him seriously in the role of a disconnected husband or ill-fated father. He plays such roles with conviction, his break away from the genre of action-packed blockbusters has shown a new side to his craft, one that has shied away ever since his role in Schindler’s List. That serious side to his abilities as an actor aren’t wholly on show in solid action flicks like Taken or Darkman, but they show his general abilities well. We’ve gotten intermittent dashings of this ability to elevate himself to that stage of “fine performances” and “fine movies” moving hand in hand with one another, rather than one or the other, as many of his films tend to offer. So, for all its negligence to conventional, presentable storytelling, it is nice to see that Made in Italy offers us a role for Neeson that isn’t gun-toting lunacy.  

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Silence Review

When Martin Scorsese finally announced he would be directing Silence, I was hesitant to dive into it right away. Such a large leap, going from The Wolf of Wall Street, a biopic of stockbrokers, shady dealings and drug abuse to Silence, a distressed musing on historic religious disputes. Rich in its history and dedicated to telling its story in as much detail as possible, Silence is a marvellous film that highlights some of Scorsese’s finest work.  

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