Liam Neeson has starred in a lot of action movies, but his repetition of similar roles over the years has led to a problem of predictability.
In recent years, Liam Neeson’s movie roles have been marked by similar characters in predictable action stories since he starred in Taken (2009), and his newest movie, The Marksman, is no exception. After the success of the first film in the Taken franchise centered on revenge, Neeson went on to reprise his role in two sequels, as well as act in several other action films. From Non-Stop to Cold Pursuit and Honest Thief, the Irish actor has the hardened hero role down to a science, frequently portraying characters on revenge missions or survival quests. However, critics see a pattern that’s become a little too familiar, and the perception of some of his films has suffered because of it.
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Most recently, Neeson starred in The Marksman and played yet another character tasked with an assignment of protection and survival. This time, he plays Jim Hanson – a rancher and former U.S. Marine working for the Arizona-Mexico border patrol. He sees an incoming family trying to escape from cartel members, and after getting involved in a shootout, he must help the family’s young son get to Chicago while the cartel is in hot pursuit. Jacob Perez, Katheryn Winnick, Juan Pablo Raba and Teresa Ruiz act alongside Neeson in The Marksman, which was released theatrically in January 2021 to mixed reviews.
The problem is that Neeson keeps churning out generic action movies that contribute very little that’s unique or original to the genre. While he is a talented actor, the recurring themes within most titles in his filmography are becoming hackneyed. With the case of The Marksman, the actual action scenes aren’t anything special, and it’s pretty clear early on in the story that Jim’s gruff exterior will be softened by the end. Critics described the movie as “predictable to a fault” (The New York Times) and that the “formulaic action thriller should have aimed higher” (Rotten Tomatoes). It’s clear that in comparison to Neeson’s other action films, The Marksman also doesn’t offer much that is new, and the same formula yet again isn’t working as well as Taken once did.
However, it looks like Neeson may be retiring from action movies sooner than later. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight back in the same month, Neeson cited his age as factor for his decision to tone down the hero antics. “I’m 68 and a half. 69 this year,” the actor mentioned. “There’s a couple more [movies] I’m going to do this year – hopefully, COVID allowing us – there’s a couple in the pipeline and then I think that will probably be it.” This came after Neeson also announced that he wasn’t looking to do any more superhero roles, although fans would be pleased to see him reprise his role as Zeus from 2010’s Clash of the Titans in Wonder Woman 3.
This return as Zeus isn’t confirmed and, while Neeson ruled out Taken 4, he is an official part of several upcoming films that seem to follow his usual pattern. For The Ice Road, which is set to release on Netflix in June, Neeson will play a driver who leads a treacherous mission across thawing ice to rescue miners trapped in a collapsed diamond mine. He is set to portray a government agent who uncovers a deadly conspiracy in the upcoming film Blacklight, and Memory will see him as an assassin-for-hire whose failure to complete a mission lands him as the next target. In Charlie Johnson in the Flames, which is based on a novel of the same name, Neeson signed on to play the titular character – a journalist who must track down a murderer and bring him to justice. Previously, it was announced that Neeson would also star in the thriller Marlowe, but production appears to be on an indefinite pause. Potentially, the quality of the action movies Neeson continues to work in is not a high consideration for him, given his intention to retire from the genre in the near future, but it’s a suffering that’s clearly experienced by The Marksman.
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The Marksman is available on VOD through Amazon Prime and Apple TV+.
- The Ice Road (2021)Release date: Jun 25, 2021
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