Liam Neeson announces his retirement from action films
Everyone loves Liam Neeson. The iconic star of Taken has spawned a thousand memes of the man on a phone, threatening God-knows-who with his very specific set of skills. Neeson has had a storied career in Hollywood, going from Schindler's List to The Grey, an existential movie about grief which featured him punching a wolf with shards of glass in his hand.
Male actors tend to get a pretty long grace period in aggressive physical roles. I mean, where else can you see a seventy-year-old beat the hell out of dozens of young trained soldiers, save for in an action film? And don't even get me started on Woody Allen.
It seems, then, that Neeson has some self-awareness about the fading form of his body. While Harrison Ford picked up the blaster one last time to play an gaining Han Solo, is seems that Neeson is hanging up his fists, and will no longer be the old man kicking ass in an action movie.
In his own words:
"They're still throwing serious money at me to do that stuff. I'm like: 'Guy's I'm sixty-f******-five.' Audiences are eventually going to go: 'Come on.'"
Neeson is reportedly on the prowl for more serious roles in prestige films, such as his recent turn in Martin Scorsese's Silence, a brutal film about testing the faith of Christian missionaries in 19th century Japan, when the shogunate punished Christians with the death penalty.
Neeson's career in action has gone from the schlock of the schlock to undebatable classics. The first Taken film is remembered lovingly by millions, whereas Taken 3 is mostly known for its comical plot-lines and chronic over-editing, featuring a hilarious fence-climbing scene with over 17 different cuts in it. It's a really choppy fence-climbing experience.
I have to say, Neeson looks very good for 65. But nevertheless, is he too old to convincingly be punching and kicking his way through hordes of bad guys? Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and others are still fighting into their old age, and of course Jean-Claude Van Damme can never be stopped.
Maybe an action movie following an aging hero could be good in its own right, if it focuses on age and the fading hero. The videogame Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots did just that, showing its protagonist deal with rapid aging on the battlefield, even including back compresses in his combat arsenal.
Will we ever see James Bond or Jason Bourne as old men, returning for one last mission? Or even Neeson, in a more serious film, could still have a handful of combat scenes, without making the film an over-the-top and unbelievable old-man-ass-kicking fest.
What do you think? Do you wish Liam would hang in there and star in some more great action thrillers? Or is he right to put the brakes on the hype train before his knees give out?
There's certainly a check in it for him, but is there integrity? And does that matter to audiences? We certainly hope to keep seeing Liam Neeson on the big screen, even if it will be for some more serious and brooding escapades.