For film lovers of a certain generation, Liam Neeson is one of the coolest action stars in recent years. For fans of a different (and slightly older) generation, Neeson has always been a versatile actor capable of delivering excellent performances. His movies range from serious to fun; romantic to profound; and straight-up goofy to — yes —action-packed.
While he’s toyed with the idea of retiring from the genre, it doesn’t seem like Neeson is leaving action thrillers behind anytime soon. In fact, he’s at it again in the new movie COLD PURSUIT. In the new movie, the actor plays a snowplow driver seeking revenge against the men who killed his son. Before we settle in for another awesome Liam Neeson thriller, let’s take a look back at his best action movie roles so far.
Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Sure, the STAR WARS prequels aren’t all great, but Liam Neeson looks exceptionally cool while wielding a lightsaber. (Counterpoint: Most people would look pretty cool with a lightsaber.) The actor, who had just come off of playing Valjean in the 1998 adaptation of LES MISERABLES, pulled a total 180 to play the wise sci-fi hero Qui-Gon Jinn in the first of the STAR WARS prequels.
Not too many actors can say they’ve appeared in a STAR WARS movie and a superhero movie. Liam Neeson is among the few. In the first film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Neeson plays Ducard, mentor to Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne. Ducard is a highly-skilled fighter who trains Bruce and shares his knowledge with the up-and-coming vigilante. By the third act, we learn that there’s much more to Neeson’s mysterious character than meets the eye.
2008 kicked off a new era in Neeson’s career as he discovered a new set of particular (acting) skills. TAKEN was the first in a handful of awesome thrillers starring Neeson as a man — usually a retired specialist of some kind, with a past — seeking revenge against the criminals who have wronged him and/or his family. In this case, he’s a retired CIA agent trying to get his daughter back from the men who kidnapped her.
Okay, THE GREY doesn’t exactly fit the TAKEN mold. Still, it’s an incredible action-thriller. The highlight is an amazing performance from Neeson, as a skilled hunter who tries to help six men survive a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. And there are wolves! Neeson is a total badass. His hunter, Ottway, is haunted by a painful past, and will stop at nothing to save the lives of his compatriots.
2014’s NON-STOP cemented Neeson’s status as the king of action and revenge-thrillers. So much so that it inspired Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key to devote a memorable sketch to the actor on their series KEY & PEELE. In NON-STOP, Neeson plays an air marshal haunted by a dark past (of course!) who is called into action when a mysterious criminal sends him threatening text messages aboard an airplane. This movie has everything!
Neeson reunited with NON-STOP director Jaume Collet-Serra for this 2018 thriller. Here, the action moves from a plane to a train. (What’s next? A rental car?) THE COMMUTER stars Neeson as an insurance salesman and (wait for it) ex-cop who gets all twisted up in a dangerous criminal conspiracy on his way home from work. Although it shares some similarities with his other action-thrillers, THE COMMUTER is different in really interesting ways – especially when it comes to the villain.
We’re excited to see Neeson bust heads in COLD PURSUIT, opening February 8.