Tag Archives: liam neeson

Movie Review – Cold Pursuit (2019)

Oh well.  Let’s get this over with.

BQB here with a review of Liam Neeson’s last semi-watchable film, Cold Pursuit.

It’s unfortunate that the man with the particular set of skills decided to whip out a proverbial revolver and shoot himself directly in the foot before this film, because it would have been better for Liam Neeson to have gone out on a high note.  I don’t what he was thinking when he publicly declared to the press that back in the day, he walked around looking to beat up any black man when one black man raped his friend but oh well, thanks for the honesty, Liam, now go sit in the corner with Mel Gibson.

Hollywood loves something that works and will try to milk it forever if they can.  Earlier this decade, Neeson, known mostly for historical dramas, wowed us in Taken, being the ex-CIA spy who uses his skills to rescue his kidnapped daughter.  It was something new, the beginning of a, “Uh oh, those idiots messed with the wrong guy” type of action genre that Neeson excelled at.  Mild mannered men who would gladly kick back and let dust grow on them until they are wronged…and then they kick ass and take names.

The trailer of this film promises us just that.  Here, Neeson plays Nels Coxman (the connotation made fun of throughout the film), a mild mannered snow plow driver who, to our great delight, owns a vast array of heavy, dangerous snow removal equipment which can easily double as bad guy murdering devices, chief among them his enormous truck with an equally large plow.  When Neeson is shown using said truck to knock a car off the road with the ease one might flip an unwanted veggie off of one’s plate, I was sold.

Now I want a refund.  The first twenty minutes start off as you might expect.  Nels has the kind of life most good men yearn for.  Loving wife (Laura Dern), a son, a business, respect of his community.  Alas, when the young lad is iced by a Denver, Colorado drug running syndicate, it all goes to shit.  Nels trades in his polite ways and starts murdering his way up the gang’s food chain, picking off baddies one by one, longing to eventually get to the big boss and take out the operation for good.

Had that line been pursued, the movie would have gone down as a fun thrill ride.  Alas, like Bugs Bunny, it takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque.  Many wrong turns, in fact.

A comedy of errors ensues and to the film’s credit, there’s a very dark, unsettling, just below the surface version of dark humor.  The gang’s leader, Viking (Tom Bateman, who has a future as a breakout star and go to guy if Hollywood ever needs someone to play a pretentious douchebag as he does it so well here) assumes that a rival Native American gang has broken a long truce and both sides go to war.  Tom Jackson provides Viking’s nemesis as the stoic White Bull, who with actions instead of words, shows us he’s a bit mixed up.  During a trip to a typical, overdone, luxury ski resort, White Bull one second seems pleased by the atmosphere then remembers this was once his peoples’ land for as far as the eye could see and screams.

The rival factions go to war and Liam is forgotten for long periods of time.  A running gag in the form of “In Memoriam” cards ties the film together.  Every time a baddie is rubbed out, his name runs solemnly across the screen.  Most of the times you see the murder.  Occasionally, you’re not sure what the prospective killer is about to do with the prospective victim in his midst until you see the victim’s name appear.

It’s an ensemble cast, featuring some fairly big names, as well as a number of actors you know you’ve seen in many other films but can’t quite place their name.  William Forsythe, for example, was the king of playing back-up, douchey/tough guy henchmen and or cops in 1980s action flicks.  Ergo, it is somewhat fitting that he plays Nels’ brother here…as well as a long retired drug dealer whose name Nels had all but forgotten.  If there’s one good part of the flick, it gives Forsythe a long awaited chance to shine and for a brief minute, step outside of the lead’s shadow.

There are a lot subplots and characters that go nowhere, as if the film were a pot and someone, somewhere said, “I like candy sprinkles!  Let’s throw that into the stew!  Wait, I love cucumbers!  Let’s put that in and pig’s feet?  You can’t go wrong with those!  Hey, here’s a leftover pizza slice from last week!  Gotta have it!”

For example, Emmy Rossum and John Doman play a old cop teaching young cop combo.  In Nels’ hometown of Kehoe, Emmy as Kim Dash, wants to crack the string of murders case wide open.  John Gipsky, the older veteran advises to leave things be.  As long as the gangsters aren’t targeting civilians, let them murder each other while small town life continues.  You wait, and wait, and wait for some moment when against her older partner’s wishes, Dash manages to get the duo caught up in the middle of the shitstorm but it never, ever happens.  Oh, spoiler alert.

Same thing with Domenick Lombardozzi, the bald headed Italian tough guy who wowed us in The Wire, wasn’t so bad in the latest season of Frank Donovan and has a strange way of making audiences feel like he could equally give them a hug like a big old teddy bear and also smash their faces with a tire iron.  He play’s Viking’s top henchman, Mustang.  He seems to be bonding with the boss’s son and there’s an inkling that he thinks the boy deserves a better life than the one the crime boss can provide.  Then you learn that Mustang is gay and he and his lover, another henchman, are keeping their love quiet from the boss.  You wait and wait and wait for the scene where Mustang and his love take the boy, adopt him and run off into the sunset but, well keep waiting.

I could go on.  There’s so much build up in all of the characters and so much, nothing.  Ultimately, the movie is like the hodge podge plate you might take away from a pot luck dinner.  You’ve got a piece of lasagna, some asparagus, a piece of meatloaf, a deli sandwich, some jello, a glob of tuna noodle casserole and three potato chips.  All good stuff, but rather pointless together, and in such small bites, not one of them alone can make you happy, and all of them mixed together just makes you sad.

STATUS: Moderately shelf-worthy…only for cool snow removal equipment murder scenes.  Also, the scenic views of the Rocky Mountains, which seem like living in the Hoth like weather would be worth it.

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Movie Review – The Commuter (2018)

He’s got a set of skills…that include riding on a train.

BQB here with a review of “The Commuter.”

Liam Neeson’s tough guy using his skills action movie phase continues to go strong and up front, I have to admit that out of all of the post “Taken” movies that still tried to capitalize on that, this one is the best.  Overall, it’s better than what you usually might expect to see in the dull, dreary month of January.

Liam stars as Michael, an ex-cop who got tired of the corruption and became an insurance salesman.  For the past ten years, he’s been a passenger on the same commuter train.  Everyday, it’s the same routine, day in, day out, where he does the same thing at the same time, and always passes by the same fellow commuters.

Alas, one day his ride home is not so routine.  A mysterious woman ( the ever boner inducing Vera Farmiga) approaches him and forces him to do her dirty work, namely, there is someone on the train her evil bosses want found and it is up to Michael to find this person…or else!

Admittedly, the plot is a little thin.  At times, Vera and her mysterious associates are able to watch and manipulate Michael so much from the shadows that one is left to believe that they probably had the power to find the person they want all along without disturbing an insurance salesman.

Still, there are some cool scenes.  There’s a montage at the beginning where Michael does the same various tasks everyday in different clothes to show the monotony of commuter life (get there everyday at the same time and do the same thing.)  There’s also a pretty cool fight scene between Michael and a would-be assassin.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Liam’s still got it after all these years.  “Breaking Bad” fans will be happy to see Jonathan Banks in a small role.

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Run All Night (2015)

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.  I snuck out while the Yeti was playing Tapper to take in a movie tonight.  Hate to say it, but the Yeti has become less of a captor and more of an annoying uninvited house guest.

But I digress.

Regrets?  Liam Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon has had a few and they’re all catching up with him over the course of one non-stop, action packed night.

Movieclips Trailers

Ever since Taken, Neeson has had a resurgence, moving from dramatic actor to tough guy action star.  In most of these films, he’s calm, cool, collected.  Surprisingly, in this film we see a divergence.  Neeson still plays a man you want on your side if you’re in a pinch, but he’s also a bad guy.  Worse, he’s not just any bad guy.  When we’re introduced to Jimmy, he’s a sloppy, slobbering, lowlife drunk, depressed over a life spent being a murderer for his longtime friend and mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris).  Of course, Jimmy sobers up quickly as he can’t be expected to take out one goon after the next in an inebriated state.

Michael Conlon (Joel Kinnaman from last year’s Robocop reboot) hates his father and avoids him all costs in the name of living a law abiding life.  Unfortunately, he ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time when he inadvertently witnesses Maguire’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) shoot some Albanian drug dealers during a deal gone awry.

Danny tries to shoot Michael so as to leave no witnesses but ends up being shot by Jimmy.  Maguire vows revenge against his long time friend and criminal associate and has a seemingly endless supply of degenerate henchmen to lob at the father-son duo as they navigate their way through the streets of New York City.

Common provides a chilling turn as stone cold hit man Andrew Price, dispatched by Maguire to take the Conlons out.  Vincent D’Onofrio also submits an emotional performance as Detective Harding, the good cop who has been hunting Jimmy for twenty-five years, only to see every case he’s brought against the mob murderer fall through the cracks of a corrupt justice system.

And yet, the rub for Harding is that on this particular night, Jimmy is not the bad guy, so the detective is struck with the unenviable task of having to help a man he despises do a good thing – i.e. save the lives of Michael and his family.

Why is revenge such a powerful force that it makes men blind to the realities around them?  Maguire knows his son did wrong.  He knows Jimmy just did something any father would do.  Even so, Maguire is out for blood and it is a bit heartbreaking to watch as a duo with a thirty year friendship take each other on.

Nick Nolte makes a quick cameo and, well, not to put the guy down because, hey, time eventually comes for all of us, but it did take me a second to realize it was Nick Nolte.

The film moves at a mile a minute pace and never slows down.  If you’re looking for a good Spring action flick, you won’t be disappointed.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy

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Movie Review – Taken 3 (2015)

WARNING:  I don’t know who you are.  Actually, I do.  You’re one of the three people who read my blog.  If you are looking for ransom, I don’t have any money.  But what I do have are a very particular set of SPOILERS, spoilers I have acquired over a two hour period spent watching a movie you haven’t seen yet.  Spoilers that can ruin your movie going experience.  If you click this post off now, that will be the end of it. But if you don’t, I will spoil this movie for you.

Actually, is it even possible for this movie franchise to have a spoiler?  By now, you know off the bat someone is getting taken.

I enjoyed the original Taken movie.  I thought it was very original.  I was surprised that Neeson, a traditional dramatic actor, was able to morph into an action star.  The concept was original – the bad guys picked the wrong guy to mess with.

Seriously – have you ever just been walking around, minding your own business, someone insults you, you let it it go and walk right by, because you’re a normal law-abiding citizen, but secretly you hope that said rude person will be rude to the wrong person and said person will kick their ass?

What?  No?  That’s just me?  OK, well I guess that’s why I thoroughly enjoyed the original Taken then.  It was enjoyable to watch the fallout that occurred when the bad guys inadvertently incurred the wrath of Neeson’s character, a highly trained badass ex-CIA agent.

Taken 2?  Well, they flipped it around a little bit.  Neeson and his ex-wife get taken, and then their daughter has to help them escape.

Hollywood could have stopped there but recently we’ve received Taken 3 – The Search for More Cash.

Caveat – as action films go, it was pretty decent, and frankly, above average for what is usually released in January.  January tends to be the month where Hollywood releases the films that are real stinkers.  I can’t say this movie stinks, it just does in comparison to the original.

Because seriously – how many times can someone in this guy’s life be taken???

One note – Neeson’s character’s current husband is changed over to a) be played by a different character and b) be the bad guy.  I’m not a fan of it when Hollywood does rewrites like that in the hopes that no one will notice.

Here’s what the pitch meeting was like:

PRODUCER 1:  We’re going to rewrite the character of Stuart the current husband to be the bad guy.

PRODUCER 2:  That’s fine.  That’s something that only a lame, obscure book blogger with 3 followers would notice.

All in all – not the best of the series, but better than usual for what you get in the first month of the year.

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