Liam NeesonGimme dat Neeson Money. Sheeee-it.

Unsurprising, but altogether disappointing news broke early last week. Liam Neeson has agreed to again reprise his role as Bryan Mills in a third Taken movie. You know, that one you’re so desperate to see. At first, this may seem strange due to the fact that Neeson himself has publicly and repeatedly said he wasn’t interested in doing any more of these movies. He didn’t really want to do Taken 2 (and it showed in the finished product), but couldn’t resist the $10-15 million payday (the amount varies depending on your source). He was paid $1 million for the first film, which clearly wasn’t intended to start a trilogy. Now, it’s massive piles of cash once again bringing him back to the table, and this time he’ll reportedly reach the fabled $20 million salary plateau rarely seen in this age of franchise-driven, “it doesn’t matter who’s in it” studio tentpoles. Read the story over at Deadline HERE. My reaction follows…

What did I think when I saw this story? Well, I let out a humongous, prolonged SIGGGGGHHHHH. In my humble opinion, Liam Neeson: The Actor > Liam Neeson: Action/Movie Star, and it seems that lately, Neeson is much more interested in high-paying “movie star” roles than roles that require him to use his immense talent…ACTING talent, that is. Giggity.

i will find you

As the story points out, the original Taken was made for only $25 million and grossed $226 million worldwide. Taken 2, made for a still-modest $45 million, suckered another $376 million out of moviegoers worldwide (including my gullible ass), so why wouldn’t Fox try their hardest to make a third one? I can’t blame them for that. It’s good business. I’m just a little surprised Neeson was so easily convinced, even if it is a monster payday. Something tells me he doesn’t need the money that badly, but I’m also guessing he’s being advised that this is a good career move. No doubt, that case could be made, depending what your priorities are. It continues to establish him as a bankable action star in the right role, and it tells other studios, “If you want our client to star in an action movie, it won’t be cheap but it will pay off.” It should be noted that Neeson’s only other solo action hero role was in the forgettable Unknown (one of the worst titles in cinema history), which was a stupid movie, but it grossed $130.7 million worldwide on a $30 million budget. This appears to be the niche his people are trying to place him in; cheap action movies made by cheap directors-for-hire where he’s the only big name. It’s a smart strategy. I just wish the resulting movies were better.

Sidebar: His next cheapo action flick is called Non-Stop (another stupid title, which I guess is also a requirement before Neeson signs on), from Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra (yeah, him!), in which Neeson plays a U.S. air marshal who “must spring into action onboard an international flight”. Not the worst concept, but I’m not gonna expect too much. That’ll be out next February. [Wiki page for the film]

Like most people, I’m a huge fan of the original Taken. It’s not a great movie, but it’s great for what it is. It knows what it is and succeeds in being that. It was an original movie with clever action scenes featuring a star we weren’t using to seeing in that kind of role. It was that rarest of things in today’s mainstream Hollywood: different. On the other hand, Taken 2 came out last October and I remember almost nothing about it except that it took place in Istanbul and featured none of the cool interplay between Neeson and the bad guys that made the first movie so fun. I can only imagine what cheap thrills the third one has in store.

If Taken 3 MUST be made (or Tak3n, as I’m gonna call it), can we at least agree to ditch the kidnapping angle? Pretty please? If they have the balls to tell us someone close to Neeson gets kidnapped a third time, I will not see this movie in theaters. Won’t do it. I’ll save it for a Netflix rental down the road. If they come up with a different kind of story, and the trailers look good, I might give it a chance. But I don’t want to, dammit. Taken 3 will again be written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote the first two films. No director has been chosen, but if tradition holds, it’ll be another random French dude. Let’s just say this is not a franchise that attracts the industry’s top directing talent.

taken 2 posterThe poster image says it all:
“Why the fuck am I doing this?”

Maybe they’ll just go balls-to-the-wall and take the story down the “BIGGER & BETTER!” road. Let’s have Bryan Mills stop an alien invasion! Or maybe aliens TAKE his daughter and he has to find his way onboard their spaceship to rescue her. Too much? At this point, does it matter? Seriously, I can’t wait to find out what the plot of this movie is going to be. CAN’T WAIT.

maggie1I admit I won’t mind seeing Maggie Grace again.

At 61, Liam Neeson may be the oldest actor ever to receive a $20 million payday. The studios rarely give out those deals anymore because the biggest hits these days don’t require one main star to sell tickets (which is a good thing, in my view, as I typically prefer ensemble casts to star vehicles). Good for him, I guess, to be such a late-blooming box office draw, but other than money, what is he accomplishing? Is it worth tarnishing his reputation for a few big paychecks (which get cut in half anyway after taxes and his agents/managers/lawyers get paid)? He certainly wouldn’t be the first respectable actor to do so. Is it too much to ask for everyone to be like Daniel Day-Lewis, who doesn’t do ANY movie just for the money? Although…I would pay good money to see DDL in an action movie. Not gonna lie.

In the end, I’m very disappointed, but I can’t give Neeson too much shit. He did, after all, make a fantastic movie just last year in The Grey, turning in one of my all-time favorite performances of his. And he’s still got a couple interesting movies coming up in the next couple years. I suppose I just wrote 1,000 words on this topic to come to the simplest of conclusions: nobody’s perfect, and money talks.

Neeson Badass


1 Comment »

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