In the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts Liam Neeson starring or playing a supporting role in a film was a better-than-half-likely assurance of quality. No longer. Now Neeson’s participation means there’s a better-than-50-50 chance that the film is a piece of action shit. Because his name, sorry to say, has nearly become a synonym for the bend-over paycheck theology. Neeson hasn’t quite attained the status of Jason Statham, whose action films are almost always garbage (i.e., 90% or 95% of the time), the last exception being ’07’s The Bank Job. But he’s getting there.
Not that it matters because action stars seem to endure no matter how many pieces of shit they make. Because action fans (i.e., guys who line up to see every Statham film no matter what) don’t seem to care whether an action film really delivers or not. They don’t seem to discriminate between CG robo-dogshit actioners like Fast Five and elite Tiffany entries like Drive. If anything a significant percentage seems to prefer the former.
I myself believe it’s important for action stars to at least offer a slight ray of hope for the discriminating action fan (i.e., someone like myself) by making a tolerable, half-acceptable film every four or five or six years. It’s understood that they make crap for a living, no problem with that, but every fifth or sixth film has to be half-decent, I feel, so you can say to yourself, “Okay, there’s a one-in-six chance this latest film won’t be torture to sit through.” They can’t all be bad, I’m saying. You can’t appear in nothing but crap for ten years straight and hold onto people like me,
Except by this standard Neeson is already failing. His last good film in which he starred was Kinsey (’04), and he’s scheduled to make Taken II in 2013. Maybe he’s the new Statham, only older.