Sinister Cinema: A Marlowesque Neeson

Brian Wallace slipped me the dope back in 2019 that Liam Neeson was lined up to portray Philip Marlowe in a flick.

Now he sends along a review of the finished film by Stephanie Bunbury.

You know people will argue the hell out of the idea of Neeson as Marlowe — hey, have fun — but you might want to check out the review. Very good.

My favorite line from the coverage: “Obviously, Neeson is also his own genre.”

Obvious, indeed. He’s carved out a late-career niche not dissimilar to what Charles Bronson did with his filmography.

Remember when Taken came out in 2008 and some critics were grousing that Neeson at 56 was too old for such a role? They got increasingly outraged as he entered his 60s and established a cottage industry of taking names and kicking ass.

How could he be doing this to his audience? they lamented.

I figured these reviewers for near imbeciles. They knew Neeson was in Schindler’s List in 1993 and Love Actually in 2003, but the pretense that he hadn’t soiled his career with action movies before Taken was ludicrous.

Earliest role I remember Neeson from was the fantasy action flick Krull (1983). Swords. Monsters.

And he played Patrick Swayze’s brother in the hillbilly action flick Next of Kin (1989). And as soon as he came off Kin, he starred as the scarred superhero in Darkman (1990), not short on action and explosions.

Soon after he did Schindler’s List he was back swinging swords in Rob Roy (1995). Give the guy props for doing all kinds of roles, but don’t pretend an actor in the Star Wars and Batman franchises should have passed on Taken.

Another way to look at it: thank the cinema gods Keanu Reeves signed on for John Wick.

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