Liam Neeson has been in showbiz for 45 years and despite saying “this is my last work” repeatedly, he’s surprised us time and again with new work. And by new work, we mean a tough older gentleman character with a history in some or other secret service, saying something like “I have a very particular set of skills, skills that I have has acquired over a very long career”.
If you don’t know that quote, it’s from one of Liam’s most famous movies – playing retired agent Bryan Mills in the Taken trilogy of action films – so perhaps it’s time you found a few hours to get to know Liam Neeson a little better.
This movie is split into three love stories that are both separate and linked – while they take place in Paris, New York and Rome, with three different couples, they’re somehow interconnected. But we’re focussing on Liam and his character Michael.
See, brooding Michael is an author and he has found his life to be somewhat mundane and boring. So he figures he’ll throw a little chaos into his world by leaving his wife Elaine (Kim Basinger) and swapping her for a newer model (literally) – his model sidepiece Anna (Olivia Wilde).
Thing is, while Michael wants a new adventure with Olivia, she’s got a secret that forces her to leave Michael, only to be drawn back each time by his charm and charisma… and that Irish accent.
Some of Liam’s work has brought him to South Africa… kinda. This CGI movie set in a game reserve was designed and animated by award-winning studio Triggerfish in Cape Town, with Liam being one of the international actors on the cast list – he voices the cruel, nasty villainous leopard Phango who’s got a taste for gemsbok… and pretty much anything else that prances around the veld-like landscape.
Definitely one for the whole family – see if you can hear actors like Jake T Austin (Two & A Half Men), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire) and Loretta Devine (Grey’s Anatomy) as a stripeless little zebra searches for his place in the world.
Mega producer-director Martin Scorsese gives Liam a religious makeover in this historical epic based on the 1966 novel Silence by Shusaku Endo. Liam plays Jesuit priest Cristavao Ferreira, who has travelled from the western edges of Europe to Japan.
The prologue, in that cool, calm Liam Neeson style of speaking, sets the very glum scene: Cristavao has just witnessed the torture and murder of a community he was attempting to convert to Christianity, leading to him renouncing his faith.
Years later, two fellow Jesuits (played by Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) travel to Japan in search of Cristavao, hoping to save him and lead him back to the church he once loved.
The problem with biographical stories is that audiences will always compare the actor to the real-life person they’re playing when it comes to physical appearances. So luckily, Liam bears a striking resemblance to Mark Felt, the FBI agent known as “Deep Throat”, the whistle-blower who exposed the infamous Watergate Scandal in 1972.
The movie’s a slow-burner but what you need to know is that it’s true: it’s based on real recorded information and the actual Mark Felt only revealed his identity as the informant in 2005 when he was 91.
By leaking information to journalists, Mark was directly involved in the scandal that forced US President Richard Nixon to resign as 37th President of the United States of America in 1974. A must for fans of politics and historical events.
It doesn’t matter what he does, Liam brings his perfect dourness to every role and it just works, whether he’s a nice-guy dad or a hardened tough guy snapping necks. He plays disgraced NYPD cop Michael MacCauley who now works as an insurance salesman and he takes the train to work and home every day. Until he’s fired.
That puts Michael in a sticky situation, since he hasn’t saved as much as he needs to care for his wife and son. But what is this? A stranger on his train ride proposes a hypothetical situation: if Michael finds a passenger named Prynne and recovers a stolen item in Prynne’s possession, he will get $100 000 cash, no questions asked.
There’s a catch, though – while the situation and mission is hypothetical, the ring in the stranger’s possession is real and it belongs to Michael’s wife…
This six-episode doccie investigates the Pope, head of the Catholic church and leader of 1.3 billion baptised followers. It unpacks the mystery associated with the position and why it is that the pope, no matter who he is by name, is able to wield power and influence over world leaders, monarchies and other powerful people.
And Liam, being a Roman Catholic, is the perfect man to narrate the documentary series, not just because he gives credibility to the religion that he’s part of, but also because he has an incredible voice that lends itself to serious matters. If you’re a history buff, definitely worth the watch. If you love the Irish accent, definitely worth listening to, even if you’re not religious.
Ah yes, the Liam we know and love: as ice cold and dangerous as the blizzard blowing across the screens in this black-comedy film. Liam plays snowplough driver Nels Coxman, a father whose life has fallen apart when his son dies from a drug overdose.
But while planning to commit suicide now that he’s got no reason to live, Nels discovers that his boy was actually murdered and he swears revenge on the drug cartel who killed the boy. While there’s a comedy of errors that follow Nels and his hunt for the elusive cartel leader known as “Viking Calcote”, it’s reassuring to see the Irishman flexing his killer stare and making short work of anyone standing in his way.
And the best for last…
Steven Spielberg’s epic historical drama turned Liam from average Joe in the acting world to heavyweight star, playing title character Oskar Schindler in the Nazi-era movie. The biographical story reveals how businessman Oskar played the Nazis for fools by employing Jewish citizens in his factory and keeping it a secret.
But while Schindler started off as a member of the Nazi party, by the end of the three-hour-15-minute black-and-white movie, Oskar has turned on his countrymen and started saving the Jewish community one person at a time. A deeply emotional movie that carries incredible insight into the monster that was the Nazi war machine and how people stood against its march of destruction when they realised just how evil and cruel it was.
This movie won seven of the 12 Academy Awards it was nominated for, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
And Liam’s “He who saves one life” speech in Schindler’s List made it to the number-one spot in the Watch Mojo UK badass Liam Neeson moments list in the video below. Check it out for some more vintage Liam Neeson roles that have defined his career.