At this point, it can be hard to even remember that, throughout much of his early career, 62-year-old Liam Neeson was respected as a heavyweight actor synonymous with classy, prestigious productions like Schindler’s List and Ethan Frome. Then came a surprise 2008 hit from Luc Besson’s high-style, low-intelligence Eurotrash action factory called Taken, and suddenly Neeson became synonymous with movies where men of a certain age with a very specific skill set beat the holy living shit out of kidnappers, bad guys, and wolves with the poor judgment to get all up in his grill. Neeson has more or less spawned his own subgenre of globe-trotting old-guy-beats-up-European-youths movies, to the point that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s forthcoming insult to the public, Who The F#@k Took My Daughter, seems to be mostly interested in mocking Neeson’s recent output. (Although, knowing those numbskulls, half the jokes will probably be confused references to Frozen and Bruce Jenner.)
To be honest, being the late-period Charles Bronson of today’s action movies seems to be a waste of Neeson’s considerable talents, and while everyone enjoys seeing an elderly man punch a wolf, as Neeson famously did in The Grey, reboots of The A-Team seem more than a little beneath his dignity.
Neeson recently sat down with Good Morning America to promote his latest action movie, Run All Night, and when asked how much longer he thinks he can continue to pretend to kill scores of men half his age, he conceded, “Maybe two more years. If God spares me and I’m healthy. But after that, I’ll stop, I think.” That seems wise and even bold as, according to Deadline, Neeson was paid somewhere in the vicinity of $20 million for Taken 3, which I can only guess is considerably more than he was paid to star in Ethan Frome.
Somewhere, Luc Besson is trying to figure out how many Taken movies he can crank out in the next 24 months, although acting retirements, like boxing and rapping retirements, are notorious for not lasting too long.