Did you actually think Neeson was done with revenge-based action films? Foolish.
Revenge is a dish best served by Liam Neeson. Your appetite may be weening on his particular brand of action film, but despite rumors to the contrary, the Taken star has not removed himself from the game quite yet. There are still plenty of goons that need smashing.
Deadline reminds us that Neeson will be reteaming with Lionsgate once more to knock out a brutal action film set in the wintery hills of Colorado. Hard Powder revolves around Neeson’s snowplow operator who was recently named “Citizen of the Year” by the town council. Unfortunately, he is unable to bask in this glory. The local drug cartel ruthlessly assassinates his son, and Neeson promises wife Laura Dern that he will burn the wretched organization to the ground. He will use his particular set of skills as an outdoorsman and snowplow driver to unleash an apocalyptic reckoning upon the criminal masterminds.
Were you able to keep a straight face reading that last paragraph? I sure couldn’t. No, this is not the fantasy of a Key & Peele sketch. This is reality. Apparently, Neeson will forever continue the balance of spicing up awards bait like Silence and Widows with borderline nonsensical old man ass-kicker pictures. If it ain’t’ broke, don’t fix it.
Wait, it gets better. In taking the law into his own hands, and slaughtering various gangster kingpins, Neeson sparks a gang war that overwhelms his community. Hard Powder is directed by Norwegian filmmaker Hans Petter Moland who originally shot this film as 2014’s In Order of Disappearance with Stellan Skarsgård as the vengeful Mister Plow. On top of that, Moland also steered Skarsgård to even darker depths in A Somewhat Gentle Man. If he can convince Neeson to sink as low, then we should have something devilishly watchable here.
Since the 2008 release of Taken, Neeson has appeared in at least 10 nearly mindless action/adventure movies as well as several respectable dramas. I’m no elitist. I love to check my brain at the door and watch Neeson crunch a bad dude’s head in a vise. That’s good and proper American entertainment.
However, as acceptable and successful as The Commuter was as a confection, the new car smell of the Neeson action vehicle has faded. How much more savage can Hard Powder be than Run All Night? Keeping these escapes in the PG-13 realm restricts the grisly nature of Neeson. We need to get the gloves off before my excitement can return to the possibilities.
What about Non-Stop, though?
That’s an excellent point. The Neeson revenge film has become a genre unto itself. They have their own sets of tropes, and how they play with them determines how they compare to the others. They might not be the type of films we anticipate months in advance, but the moment we find ourselves in front of them, we are entertained.
He’s a badass snowplow driver? Gosh. That’s too silly to pass on. And Laura Dern? She deserves more than to be wasted as a wife sidekick. If the film has any common sense, it will let her mother character have as much revenge catharsis as Papa Neeson. We may not be counting down the minutes to see it, but when Hard Powder erupts on February 8th, we’ll be there to judge it against all other Taken wannabes.