Who stops Liam Neeson? No one stops Liam Neeson. Liam Neeson is Non-Stop. He won’t stop, he can’t stop. He’s in Non-Stop and he’s Non-Stop because you can’t stop him, he’s unstoppable. Why would you stop watching Liam Neeson kicking ass Non-Stop when you could see him delivering beatdowns Non-Stop? He’s unstoppable, and you deserve some Non-Stop Liam Neeson before Non-Stop hits theaters and you can’t stop watching Non Stop on a non-stop loop.
We’ve compiled your ideal 24-hour marathon of Liam Neeson thrillers, all action pictures where Neeson pummels and batters villains. It makes sense you’d be a little excited for the 61-year-old actor to take down fools one more time, so why not a full day’s worth of the towering blue-eyed Irish-accented star of such prestige fare as Schindler’s List, Michael Collins and Ethan Frome? Let's kick some ass.
STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACEAt noon, the kids are probably still around, why not throw ‘em a bone? Liam Neeson’s got a bizarre action movie trajectory: he spent a large portion of his early action days serving as a mentor to other heroes before striking out on his own as he aged. Here, he’s lightsaber-wielding Jedi badass Qui-Gon Jinn, teaching the Force to eager young student Obi-Wan Kenobi. Neeson looks great in robes, speaking George Lucas’ nonsense homilies he calls dialogue, and he even goes out like a boss. Are you surprised?
BATMAN BEGINSAnother mentor role, but this one is a bit more twisted. Liam Neeson visits the despondent young Bruce Wayne as Henri Ducard, emissary to the League of Shadows. He eventually teaches the Caped Crusader to be a ninja, and then a terrorist. When Wayne fights back, he learns that Ducard is merely the alter ego of the League’s founder, Ra’s Al Ghul. Neeson’s essentially doing a proud-warrior shtick, which is interesting because as he shifts to full-on villainy, that shtick remains. Ra’s is one of Batman’s greatest foes, but he only really makes a physical appearance in Batman Begins, robbing us of an entire series of Neeson’s Ra’s taunting Batman by suggesting he is eternal, his methods supernatural.
DARKMANYou tried the decaf, how about something harder? Batman Begins is just one of many contemporary hero films that pick up a foreboding sense of darkness from Darkman, Sam Raimi’s makeshift take on Phantom of The Opera as a crimefighter. Liam Neeson is Peyton Westlake, a scientist who seems to perish in a horrible disaster. But he was working on facial reconstruction surgery, and when he lives, he uses the tech to terrorize his enemies. Darkman is fast, witty and violent, with tons of loopy low budget touches: you’ll never forget Neeson’s carnival flip-out when he just can’t seem to score that pink elephant.
TAKEN & TAKEN 2What time is it? TAKEN TIME. Also, 6:25! Liam Neeson is Bryan Mills, a retired badass with a set of special skills. The first is superior due to Pierre Morel’s sense of action choreography and the freshness of the premise. The second one is largely hogslop, done in by the incompetence of Olivier Megaton, but it’s hard to miss Neeson aging into Charles Bronson, wearing a wispy, faint old-guy mustache like a baby scarf. In the first film, he’s very much at odds with ex-wife Famke Janssen, but by the end of the second film, she’s so thawed that you could view it as one extended two-part romance.
ROB ROYIt should be around 9:35, so the fairweather Neeson fans should be treated to something a bit more classical. Rob Roy was overshadowed by Braveheart upon its release: it is also an action-heavy story of a Scottish folk hero featuring a memorable leading man turn. And, dare we say it, this one is superior to that Best Picture Oscar winner. Neeson’s Roy is a proud cattle herder who must take up arms against the British landowners who bully him, particularly an Oscar-nominated Tim Roth. The picture has gorgeous widescreen vistas and a memorable Carter Burwell score, but the most baller aspect has to be the climactic swordfight between Roy and Roth’s sniveling Archibald Cunningham.
KINGDOM OF HEAVENOh, you think you can do 24 hours of Non-Stop Neeson? Well, then we’re gonna test ya: how about the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom Of Heaven? Neeson plays the leader of a group of Crusaders who fight for the King of Jerusalem, looking to call his son into battle with them. Again, it’s a mentor role for him, and he’s not physically in a huge chunk of the film’s 194 minute runtime. But this Crusades actioner finds plenty of violence for Neeson to partake in: wait until you hear his story of completing a battle with an arrow inside his scrotum.
NEXT OF KINEarly Neeson resides in this hardcore actioner starring Patrick Swayze as a Chicago cop with country roots. When his brother (Bill Paxton) is killed, the third of the Gates brothers (Neeson) steps forward and insists this is the beginning of a blood feud. This is Neeson in backwoods form, in a supporting role to Swayze, but nonetheless the most threatening badass in the movie. It’s 3:15 AM, so this is for the most hardcore Neeson enthusiast.
SERAPHIM FALLSThis moody western, which would start up around 5:05 or so, finds Neeson as a crusty Confederate soldier, tasked with leading a bounty hunt to find a Union ally played by Pierce Brosnan. It’s Neeson in bad guy mode, leading his crew after a man who’ll do anything to survive in the wilderness. Brosnan and Neeson are a solid action movie pairing, and Neeson’s villainy skills are sorely underused, as evidenced by his turn here.
BREAKFASTHave some damned breakfast, you animal. One has to concede this isn’t a festival of classics (you slept through the last hour of Kingdom of Heaven, admit it). So a nice big break, maybe forty five minutes, is best for some eggs, sausage, an early steak and other manly Neeson-type items. Also recommended: Breakfast On Pluto, which features Liam Neeson in a small role as a priest. He doesn’t kick ass in that one, but it’s a great Irish film. You’ve gotta see it.
UNKNOWNJaume Collet-Serra, the director of Non-Stop, first worked with Neeson with this mystery thriller, where he plays a man who’s had his identity completely erased, and must find out the truth behind the conspiracy with his fists. Liam Neeson is in total movie-star mode here, and while the central mystery is ridiculous, it’s worth it just to see Neeson regain his confidence as the truth begins to unfold. Collet-Serra is also directing Neeson in the upcoming Run All Night, so this is really the first of a Collet-Serra trilogy of Neeson kicking ass.
THE GREYOnce more into the fray… close out the Liam Neeson fest (around 9:45-10) with one of his finest roles. As a suicidal wolf-tracker working for an oil company, Neeson brings serious gravitas to the role of Ottway, the hardest of a group of hard men and the leader of the group when their plane crashes in the wilderness. Not only do you get Neeson regaining his will to live, leading a group that includes Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale an (an excellent) Frank Grillo, but you also get him leaping improbable heights, sprinting through snow and punching out wolves. There’s no better way for the whole thing to end.