A Liam Neeson movie is a very special category of film — because it doesn’t just refer to movies that feature Liam Neeson. For example, neither Love Actually nor The Other Man is a Liam Neeson movie. They are just movies that happen to have Liam Neeson in them. By the same token, a Liam Neeson movie doesn’t even need to have Liam Neeson in it to be a Liam Neeson movie (see: Pierce Brosnan in The November Man and Denzel Washington in almost everything he’s done for the last decade or so).
No, a Liam Neeson movie is just a movie in which Liam Neeson (or a Liam Neeson stand-in) plays a man with a very special set of skills. Those skills involve the ability to kill an incredible numbers of people with remarkable ease. The man in the Liam Neeson movie must also be haunted, preferably by death of a close friend or family member, or perhaps by the entirely imperceptible attrition of his very special set of skills. At some point in the beginning of a Liam Neeson movie, something will happen that will send him on an irreversible course of vengeance and/or badassery, resulting in a very special set of skills being used — to kill.
For those of us who are unable to wait until Taken 3 is released in January, or Run All Night is released in April, Liam Neeson himself will be starring in a Liam Neeson movie, A Walk Among the Tombstones, this weekend. To commemorate the occasion of another Liam Neeson-starring Liam Neeson movie, here are Liam Neeson’s Most Badass Movies, ranked:
Honestly, as far as Liam Neeson movie protagonists go, Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) wasn’t exactly the most badass. He gets better as the movie goes on, to be sure, but there’s no way that Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) from Taken would have allowed himself to be in a car accident, let alone allowed it to result in a coma. He even needs help from an accomplice to avoid being killed on numerous occasions, and seems to have “odds” that need to be overcome. That’s not very Liam Neeson-y of him.
4. Taken 2
The Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) of the first Taken would have known to remain constantly vigilant at all times — both for himself and for his family — seeing as how the entire Albanian mob was seeking some return vengeance upon him for killing dozens of their confederates in the first flick. That said, the taking of his ex-wife gives Bryan the opportunity to kill a whole bunch of new henchmen in some quintessentially Liam Neeson ways.
3. The Grey
Truth be told, this is probably the least pure Liam Neeson-y of the various Liam Neeson roles that Liam Neeson has played in a Liam Neeson movie. On the one hand, Ottway (Liam Neeson) fights a bunch of rabid wolves with his bare hands (and bare hands with shards of glass sticking out of them to boot), but on the other, he doesn’t seem to have quite as many special skills as some his other Liam Neeson roles. Oh and — spoiler alert! — he almost definitely dies at the end. Fighting wolves with one’s bare hands is still pretty badass.
Think of this one as Snakes on a Plane, except instead of snakes, there are terrorists, and instead of Samuel L. Jackson playing the Liam Neeson role, Liam Neeson is playing the Liam Neeson role. Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) plays an air marshall who not only has a special set of skills but is also an alcoholic (fortunately, the latter seems to not affect the former). Though he has to work against rogue colleagues, the aforementioned terrorists, and an entire plane that hates him because he’s an enormous jerk, he still manages to save the day and score a date with Julianne Moore. Not bad for a day’s work.
Obviously, Taken was going to be Liam Neeson’s most badass Liam Neeson movie. It was the original (at least for Liam Neeson) and probably won’t ever be topped. The best part about Taken — and let’s be honest, there are many best parts — is the ease with which he just obliterates everyone in his path, rarely taking any sort of damage or detours on his route to triumph and vengeance. This is truly Liam Neeson at his peak Liam Neeson, the standard by which all other Liam Neeson movies will forever be judged.