Currently browsing the "Liam Neeson" tag.

Review: The Marksman

What can I say? It’s Liam Neeson – with a straw hat, a rifle, and a faithful dog. There’s nothing particularly unique or original about The Marksman, but Neeson gives the type of performance that’s made him watchable in even the lamest of movies like Honest Thief in October or Made In Italy in August. The Marksman is certainly better than those, but not as good as the moving marital drama Ordinary Love released in barely pre-pandemic times (February 2020). The guy is nothing if not prolific at the ageless action-thriller-romantic hero age of 68. In The Marksman, Neeson plays Jim Hanson, a hardened rancher (with an all-American name and distinctly Irish accent) who works an isolated stretch of borderland in Arizona. He’s a widower drowning in debt, and he doesn’t have much use for anyone or anything outside his ranch, a bottle, and his four-legged companion Jackson. But he’s also an ex-Marine – so he’s got honor. The kind of honor that propels him to make good on a promise to take 11-year-old migrant Miguel (Jacob Perez) to the safety of family in Chicago, even though the border patrol and a group of ruthless killers from a Mexican drug cartel are hot on their trail.

Quickie Review: Honest Thief

Honestly, Liam, what were you thinking? Honest Thief is simply not worthy of your well-documented ‘particular set of skills.’ The plot is beyond paper thin, making this particular action crime drama barely worthy of a special crossover episode of USA television’s White Collar and Burn Notice. On second thought, I’m being unfair to White Collar and Burn Notice. Those shows had much stronger character development and motivational clarity.

Neeson is, as always, watchable and likeable and resourceful; it’s the material that lets him (and us) down.

Review: Made In Italy

What are the odds of two films set in Italy, where art plays a prominent role, both coming out on the same day? I guess, in a pandemic, all bets are off. The audiences are likely to differ though for the unpredictable adult drama The Burnt Orange Heresy and the predictable, yet harmlessly watchable father-son melodrama Made in Italy, starring real father and son Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson.

Review: Ordinary Love

Ordinary Love offers a master class in quiet, meaningful, relatable and subtle performances from two veteran actors, Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) and Liam Neeson (Taken, Schindler’s List). They play Joan and Tom, a loving, long-married couple whose comfortable routine is disrupted by an unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer. The film shines a light on the everyday challenges a couple can face while attempting to navigate uncertainty, illness and grueling treatments with a sense of humor, grace and intimacy. There’s also tremendous sadness, anxiety, frustration and fear.

Review: Men In Black: International

Does Men In Black: International break new ground? No, not really. Does it need to? Would have been nice; but no, not really. It’s good enough to serve as an amusing diversion at the start of the summer movie season, and sustain the sci-fi adventure comedy franchise that kicked off with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones back in 1997. It’s a popcorn movie. Over-think it, and you may be disappointed. Embrace it for what it is, and you’ll have a good time watching a new crop of super-secret agents tasked with protecting Earth from the scum of the universe. The plot is a tad superficial and the globe-trotting a bit excessive and unnecessary (except for lending credence to the subtitle), but a solid cast helps keep it afloat.

Review: Cold Pursuit

Cold Pursuit triggered a chilling case of deja vu. Not just because it’s another Liam Neeson revenge thriller. But because I’d seen the exact same movie before, in 2014 – a foreign film out of Norway called In Order of Disappearance (“Kraftidioten”), about a mild-mannered snowplow operator named Nils Dickman who sets out to avenge the mob-related murder of his son. Cold Pursuit is an American remake, made by the same director (Hans Petter Moland), with a few minor alterations. And I mean minor. The main character’s name has been changed to Nels Coxman (Neeson), and he’s a snowplow operator in Colorado. The narratives, the action, the motivations, the gallows humor, and the high body count remain essentially the same, as do the creatively varied ways in which people die.

Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

This anthology film from the Coen Brothers will only be in a few big city theaters for a week before it begins streaming on Netflix. It’s made up of six separate stories all set in the Wild West held together by beautiful cinematography and a great cast. A couple of the stories are a lot of fun. A few, meh! All together it clocks in at 132 minutes, and there were certainly places where a little snip or two would have made it better. But if you’re a fan of the Coens, you’ll probably overlook the length and have a fine time.

Quickie Reviews: Paddington 2; The Commuter

Paddington 2 “If you’re kind and polite, the world will be right.” If only it were that simple. In Paddington’s world, it is. That’s why kids and adults could benefit from a return visit. Paddington 2 is a charming follow-up to the 2015 movie based on the popular children’s books by Michael Bond. As the story unfolds, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) has settled into life in London with his adopted family, the Browns. He’s become a popular member of the community – spreading joy, mischief, and marmalade wherever he goes. But a series of mishaps land him in prison, accused of stealing a pop-up book of London that he intended to buy for his dear Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday. On the human front, Hugh Grant steals the show as a washed-up actor with a nefarious agenda that involves the pop-up book and a hidden treasure.

Non-Stop

Check your cynicism and plausibility meter at the gate, because Non-Stop is fraught with narrative turbulence. So take it with a grain of salt, and enjoy it for what it is… a guilty pleasure movie. Serious-actor-turned-action-star Liam Neeson plays Bill Marks, a U.S. Air Marshal who is set up to take the fall for murder and hijacking aboard a transatlantic flight from New York to London. He gets a series of text messages en route, indicating someone will die on board the flight every 20 minutes until $150 million is transferred into an off-shore account. Let the countdown… and the body count… begin.

Battleship

I wasn’t blown away by Battleship, though a lot of stuff does blow up real good! So if you like explosions galore and a bloodless (though high) body count, then Battleship might be a ‘hit’. Otherwise, consider it a ‘miss’. B-10! Get it?

Battleship is “inspired by” the classic naval combat board game by Hasbro. That explains why there’s no real plot or character development. Just your good ol’ fashioned heroes (go Navy!) and villains (Aliens, go home!).