Tag Archives: Liam Neeson

Not So Taken With Taken 3

father and child reunion

With a car chase that’s as scintillating as a supermarket car park, the most exotic location a boondock desert gas station somewhere in California, and a narrative that is plodding, predictable and PG where it should be R, TAKEN 3 is a tired token of its progenitor and predecessor, toned down to an atonal, trite and tepid potboiler that evaporates before it bubbles.

Where the original film had glorious European locations, this third instalment is moribund in Malibu, and where there was a sense of urgency over the kidnapping of the daughter and sexual slave trade scenario, no such vim is vitalised here.

Screen writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, the scribes behind the Transporter franchise as well as the Taken trio, have simply exhausted the Boon Mills was, milked it dry and turned in a script that’s parched of sense or sensibility. Continue reading Not So Taken With Taken 3

A Walk Amongst The Tombstones

Liam Neeson as private eye Matt Scudder and Brian 'Astro' Bradley as teenage artist, TJ
Liam Neeson as private eye Matt Scudder and Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley as teenage artist, TJ

Writer director Scott Frank is a detective fiction aficionado who has carved a career out of adapting the cream of contemporary American hard boiled literature.

His screenplay for Get Shorty was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Next, Frank wrote the screenplay for Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard. For Out of Sight, Frank was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Adapted Screenplay and won a WGA Award. Frank’s additional screenplays include Heaven’s Prisoners based on the novel by James Lee Burke.

His latest film, A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, is an adaptation of Lawrence Block’s novel, with the main character  Matt Scudder, played by Liam Neeson.

The film begins in 1991 and Matt Scudder, NYPD officer is having a sly grog in a shady speakeasy when a sleazy trio walk in and shoot the barman dead. Scudder pursues them like a scud missile locked on target, blazing away and blasting them to bits.

Fast forward to 1999 and Matt Scudder is now an unlicensed private investigator and recovering alcoholic.

He hasn’t had a drop since he dropped those three deadbeats. One of his acquaintances at AA meetings, a young substance abuser and artist, Peter Kristo, implores Scudder to help his brother, Kenny, a drug dealer, whose wife has been kidnapped and murdered.

Scudder’s investigations reveal a pattern that links the crime with previous cases, including the murder of a female police officer whose missing files are fueling further foul deeds by a duo of sadistic, misogynist serial killers.

A WALK AMONGST THE TOMBSTONES is classic film noir, with a damaged hero, tons of money, a nefarious nemesis, unusual suspects and a sassy sidekick.

Indeed, the most meaningful relationship within the film is the one between Scudder and TJ, the homeless teenage artist whom the ex-cop meets in the library at the beginning of his investigation. On his own since his mother left him at the hospital during another bout with a debilitating illness, TJ has had to fend for himself for much too long.

Much to Scudder’s chagrin, TJ goes from research partner to a key ally in tracking down the killers. Playing the role of the aspiring junior detective is rapper Brian “Astro” Bradley, whose repartee with Liam Neeson as Scudder are worth the price of admission.

Skiting his superior scriptwriting skills, Scott Frank condenses, concertinas and expands the book, positioning aspects of Scudder’s fall from grace and his long road to redemption that are detailed in the series of volumes penned by Lawrence Block, into this particular narrative, nourishing Neeson’s splendid characterisation.

The plotting is well paced, and the dialogue delicious, eliciting laugh out loud moments that any comedy would envy. First class casting combined with premium production values makes A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES a jaunt worth joining.

THE LEGO MOVIE

LEGO1

Best LEGO family adventure movie ever, this modern day satire is subversive and yet counter-cultural. This Australian made 3D computer animation comedy movie film, is already so beloved by USA audiences because this film satisfies audiences of all ages, and the sequel is already being made. Decent plot with very engaging characters, and you will be taken for quite an emotional and hectic ride, but near the end, the story has that unexpected twist, with an intriguing moral lesson for all, that is essentially true to life.

Emmet (Chris Pratt) a forgettable everyman, struggles as an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO mini-figure and is hopelessly and hilariously under prepared, when mistakenly identified by our surveillance culture. When anointed by an underground resistance movement as the “The Special” and the key to saving the world, Emmet is drafted into an epic quest journey (think HOBBIT) to stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell) the evil tyrant who intends to permanently glue everyone in place. Just like MR.PEABODY AND SHERMAN, there are some surprising voices used as cameos, this time from famous female and male actors. Amazing visuals and yes it is very hard to tell that everything, is not actually made of real Lego pieces.

Continue reading THE LEGO MOVIE

NON-STOP

Julianne Moore stars opposite Liam Neeson in NON-STOP
Julianne Moore stars opposite Liam Neeson in NON-STOP

NON- STOP is a brisk action thriller, a modern Agatha Christie ‘whodunit’ played at 40,000 feet on a flight with 200 passengers lives at risk.

Liam Neeson stars as Bill Marks a burned out veteran of the Air Marshals service. He has a drinking problem, paranoia, and carries a photograph of his deceased daughter. During what was to be a routine transatlantic flight, he is forced to act after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk – a passenger will die every 20 minutes unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.

Continue reading NON-STOP

Chloe

A pensive looking Julianne Moore in 'Chloe'

Atom Egoyan’s new film ‘Chloe’ is recommended for filmgoers who love a powerful, contemporary relationship drama.

The film’s intriguing scenario sees an attractive, professional married woman, Dr Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore), suspect her husband David Stewart (Liam Neeson), an academic, of being unfaithful. To test out her theory Catherine pays a beautiful local escort girl, Chloe (Amanada Seyfried), to flirt with him and see how far she can get with him. The film is an American adaptation, by Erin Cressida Wilson, of the French film ‘Nathalie’ written by Anne Fontaine.

Egoyan’s film is such a rich film, with so many qualities. Suspensful? Absolutely!  An edge of your seat film, as much as the best thriller movie. Well crafted? Sure! Egoyan is an auteur; he knows how to drive a film, to bring together all the elements; the performances, the music, the look, the editing…

What struck me most about ‘Chloe’ was how confronting the film was. It was a piercing study of its main character, a deeply psychologically flawed young woman. Also stunning was the portrait of Dr Catherine Stewart, a woman who finds her keenly sort for and cherished professional life deeply threatened.

There were four key performances and they were each brilliant. Julianne Moore, as always, was wonderful. Moore transverses her characters’ torrid journey well, a normally assured woman who finds herself, increasingly, out of her depth, and threatening to lose all vestiges of control.

Amanda Seyfried is striking as the disturbed, manipulative Chloe, who has no qualms in harming anyone as she strives to get her needs met.

As Catherine’s academic husband David Stewart, Liam Neeson plays an insular, indulgent character, who finds his comfortable world and family life rocked to its foundations.

Max Thierlot makes a strong impact in his performance as David and Catherine’s son, Michael, a virtuoso piano player who is going through a difficult adolescence, and finds himself deeply drawn into his parent’s dramas.

‘Chloe’ was a knockout film. I’m still reeling days after having seen it.