Liam Neeson is soon to star in the film Unknown, which opens February 18th here in the US. But before he was able to so confidently open an action film filled with espionage and intrigue such as this one, he was first slotted into the starring role of the 2008 film Taken. In that picture he assured us that he was a man with a “very specific set of skills” which ended up mostly consisting of hunting people down and killing them in horrifically satisfying ways. It wasn’t a movie that should have made much of an impact at the box office, and it didn’t resemble anything that had real franchise potential; but there was something about the film that really resonated with audiences.
When Neeson said that he had a specific set of skills in that trailer, people believed him. They believed him so much that they showed up to see him exhibit those skills in droves. And despite his advancing age, Neeson was able to convincingly kill a bunch of people without any of it looking unlikely or exploitational. Despite all rational to the contrary, Liam Neeson had become a modern day action hero with just one role, even though he was already a hundred years old. In an era with a pathetic cache of action icons, in an era where today’s children might not even understand the transcendental heroics of blowing a guy’s head clean off, a classic revenge film like Taken came as a huge breath of fresh air.
When questioned about the original and a possible sequel, Neeson told MTV, “ … it just seemed to hit a pulse in people, it did very, very well which I’m thrilled about, and we’re hoping to do another one next year sometime.”
A script is currently underway. While I am kind of disappointed that the most satisfying action films of today are coming from a bygone era of crusty old men, I admit I couldn’t help but find myself really enjoying the sheer manliness of the original Taken, and I would more than welcome a sequel. If this is what it takes to teach young Hollywood about the subtle joys of ripping people’s throats out on film, then so be it.