Entries in LIam Neeson (4)

Monday
Feb112019

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW // A FILM REVIEW OF "COLD PURSUIT"

BY MATEO MORENO

 

Liam Neeson is now an expert at the revenge thriller. At least on screen. In real life, at a press junket for his latest movie COLD PURSUIT, he described a past situation where he actually did want revenge. One of his friends was raped and he suddenly had the desire to take justice in his own hands. But, as he described it, he asked what the man looked like. She didn’t know. Then he asked what color he was, and his friend told him Black. So he found himself walking up and down just wanting to kill someone, anyone, who was black. He told this story because he snapped out of it and realized how awful it was. And that he was wrong. However, it did not go over well, as you might imagine (to see more on the interview that went viral for all of the main reasons, click here). Press junkets were cancelled and his new movie underperformed this weekend. Hopefully, Liam Neeson the man can take this as a teachable moment, a learning lesson, and a way to understand how that moment, set 40 some years ago, was a moment of racism. That fact that he learned from it is great. But to fully move on is to acknowledge the moment of racism, and be better. I like Mr. Neeson. I think he seems like a good man overall, so I hope he learns from this and sees how troubling it was for us to hear it.

 

Liam Neeson the actor does indeed get revenge in his latest film, revenge for the murder of his son, and the film itself is surprising and well done. He plays a snow plow driver named Nels Coxman, who at the beginning of the film is accepting the Citizen of the Year from his small town of Kehoe, a fictional Colorado ski resort town. His son Kyle (Neeson’s real life son Micheal Richardson) is killed by a drug cartel over a some stolen cocaine, though we find out soon enough that Kyle was an innocent victim of it all. The cartel set it up so it look like Kyle overdosed. But Neeson smells a rat, knowing that his son was not a druggie. His wife (played by Laura Dern) simply breaks down and leaves him, never to be seen again. Which makes casting such a recognizable face to do almost nothing strange. So Neeson begins to track them down, one by one, exacting his revenge until he gets higher and higher up the ladder, the ladder held by the top boss, Trever “Viking” Calcote (Tom Bateman).

 

Based on the Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, Director Hans Petter Moland readapts his original film using the Neeson model of the lumbering, late life action hero. But COLD PURSUIT plays much different than his Taken movies, or any of Neeson’s action films. It’s slow moving, the violent action often happens off screen, and it plays homage to slow moving Norwegian films, old Cowboy films, and the revenge film all at once. At the same time, it satirizes them, adding a good load of dark humor to offset you as you watch the film. Neeson is good here, and what I liked is that he’s not the unstoppable machine that he sometimes is. He gets winded. He often doesn’t know what he’s doing, simply that he has to find his son’s killer. And that change helps make COLD PURSUIT stand out. The supporting villain cast also has some strong support, especially Tom Bateman’s openly racist, psychopath head cartel boss, who is Patrick Bateman in the snow but also is rasing his son like a project (he gives him the novel "Lord of the Flies" as an instruction manual to be a man). Domenick Lombardozzi also has some very strong moments here and it’s nice that the middle of the movie follows other characters and then winds back to Coxman. There are missteps; it’s nice to see Native Americans as main characters and not make them caricatures, but perhaps a few lines and personality trates next time? Also, Emmy Rossum and John Doman are a nice, fun duo when we see them, but the fact that Rossum’s character has to use her sexuality to get information is just lazy.

 

All that being said, the film is a fun surprise. It’ll be interesting if Neeson can pull himself out of this self-made hole he gave with the bizarre interview and audiences will want to see him exacting revenge again, but we’ll see. Separate from his own troubles, COLD PURSUIT is well worth your time.

 

MATEO'S GRADE: B+

BASED ON THE FILM "IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE" WRITTEN BY Kim Fupz Aakeson SCREENPLAY BY Frank Baldwin DIRECTED BY Hans Petter Moland STARRING Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Domenick Lombardozzi, Nicholas Hines, Emmy Rossum, John Doman, Laura Dern, William Forsythe, Micheal Richardson. Now playing in cinemas.
Friday
Sep192014

HIDE AND SEEK - A FILM REVIEW OF "A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES"

BY MATEO MORENO

 

It’s almost hard now to remember the Liam Neeson who existed before Taken, the 2008 Luc Besson scripted action thriller that rebooted a new career for the towering actor. Remember when he was a sweet, mourning father who wanted nothing best but the best for his son in Love, Actually? Or when he stepped into the shoes of “Prisoner 24601” sixteen years before Hugh Jackman did in Billie August’s non musical adaptation of Les Miserables? Or his powerful portrayals of Oskar Schindler or Michael Collins, or as a Delta Force member next to Chuck Norris in The Delta Force (okay, that last one is a joke, but you get the point)? Those days are behind us now, and now the Neeson that stands quite literally over us is the action hero we can all find comfort in. He’s a thinking man’s hero. And though many may miss the man of yesterday, I do love seeing Neeson crack some skulls like it’s his job. And it is. Here he is again in what they hope will be the beginning of a new franchise, A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES.

 

Neeson stars as Matthew Schudder, an NYPD detective with a penchant for multiple drinks, shaggy hair, and lethal force whenever necessary. At the beginning of the film we see Schudder trying to have a drink in a local hole in the wall when a man opens fire on the bartender. Schudder chases each of the kids down, both sides blindly gunning at each other down the street. He succeeds in taking down the bad guys, but something happened to him that day and we “flash forward” to 1999 (oh, Y2K references, how I’ve missed you) where he’s no longer a detective but a private investigator no longer in the mood for a drink. He’s often hired to do the things a man of the badge can’t do, and a drug dealer has now hired him to find the men responsible for his wife’s brutal kidnapping and death.

 

Director Scott Frank (The Lookout) skillfully slows down the action and lets the creepy story, well, creep along, keeping you hooked in from the very violent and bloody beginning. It may be a familiar story but it’s one told with a strong leading hand and great cinematography. Neeson is a rough and powerful figure here, quietly unspooling the mystery with each step. The strong supporting cast is led by the fantastic David Harbour as the creepiest of creeps and his silent, scheming partner Adam David Thompson. Brian “Astro” Bradley takes the role of a streetwise teen/sidekick and has a blast next to his towering co-star. Also very good is Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens (in a drastically different kind of role we’re used to seeing him in) and Boyd Holbrook as the junkie brother of the junkie dealer. The adaptation of Lawrence Block’s novel may stir some fans up (bits of the plot are moved around and changed, even points from another novel is inserted here) but it’s a fine adaptation and one worthy of a new series of action films. We could do a lot worse than having Matthew Schudder as our new tormented action hero.

 

GRADE: B

Based on the novel by Lawrence Block Screenplay by Scott Frank Directed by Scott Frank Starring Liam Nieeson, David Harbour, Dan Stevens, Adam David Thompson, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Boyd Holbrook. Rated: R (Adult Language, Adult Situations, Graphic Violence, Brief Nudity)


BOTTOM LINE: A strong start to a hopeful franchise. It’s a road many have traveled before, but does it here with style and grace.

Thursday
May012014

TRIBECA FILM FEST 2014: THIRD PERSON

BY LIZ WHITTEMORE

 

They say, “Write what you know.” As a writer, I always pull from my own experiences first. Then the imagination takes over. Academy Award winning Writer/ Director, Paul Haggis (Crash), lets us into the mind of a fictional, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist in Third Person. Michael (Liam Neeson) has essentially locked himself in a hotel suite in Paris. He is desperate to finish his new book but emotionally is held back by a past (and present) that is haunting him. Enter his young mistress, Anna (Olivia Wilde), to stir up a little fun and whole lot of trouble. They play a cat and mouse game that seemingly suits one another’s age and stage. Then we jump to Rome, where we find corporate conman Sean (Adrian Brody) confronted with a gypsy woman, Monika (Moran Atias), pulling him into what may be a long con of her own. Finally, in New York, we meet Julia (Mila Kunis), a former soap star whose ex-husband, Rick (James Franco), is trying to keep her from having any visitation rights after their son is almost killed in her care. Maria Bello plays Kunis’ lawyer, Theresa.

 

Each story is intertwined in some way and, much like Crash, as the film progresses, there are hints as to what that might be. A running theme we feel with each character is the connection they have with a child. “Watch Me” can be heard in a child’s whisper several times. The multiple narrative style will keep the audience on their toes for the full 137 minute run of the film. Clever editing adds to the drama at every turn.

 

Neeson is an authentic force. His quiet moments are some of the most intriguing and his connection to Wilde is charming. Wilde, herself, is breathtaking in the balance of hard and soft. Her vulnerability on screen is a joy to watch. Brody’s struggle to do the right thing is something very apparent and there is a moment in the film when he loses a voicemail that will destroy you. Franco plays a real asshole, for lack of a better word. His loathing for Kunis’ character knows no bounds even if it appears his wanting for their son is purely a spiteful and vengeful act. Kunis could not be better. She is truly heartbreaking on screen and incredibly relatable. The climactic scene between her and Franco will both horrify you and make you applaud for the the trust that these two actors must have in real life in order to deliver such a performance. Cheers to them both.

 

Third Person is a really touching and complex script. Regret, loss, and love all reign supreme in this story. Haggis has outdone himself, once again, tackling some of the most important things that haunt us all on a daily basis.

 

VERDICT: MUST SEE

 

Written/Directed by: Paul Haggis Starring: Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, Adrian Brody, Mila Kunis, James Franco, Maria Bello, Kim Bassinger, Moran Atias Runtime: 137mins


BOTTOM LINE: Go for the acting. Go for the writing. Go for the ending. Just go see Third Person. Tell them, “She sent me.”