Once upon a time in movie making history, Liam Neeson was just That Irish Guy You Saw In Movies Sometimes. He was a reliable face in any period piece made in the 1980s, and was the funkier, indie answer to Daniel Day-Lewis in the 1990s. It wasn't as though he was unknown or unappreciated – far from it, especially after Schindler's List – but he wasn't... cool. He was a dramatic man who did thrillers and dramas, and despite a few popcorn pieces to his name, his casting in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace gave it a prestigious, pre-production heft. He seemed destined to be the Alec Guinness of the prequels. (And to this day, he's still one compliment most people can dig out about the prequels, because darn it, he was the Alec Guinness of the new trilogy!)
Seemingly overnight (and just as people were bitching he had played too many kindly father/mentor figures), Neeson has become an authentic and awesome action star. I think this shift occurred thanks to Batman Begins, but it was definitely sealed with Taken. Suddenly, Neeson (at a whopping 59 years old) has become A-List prime grade beef. He's fighting sex slavers, wolves, assassins, Titans, Batman, and whoever the heck they were battling in The A-Team. Ask a man (or woman) to fancast some action setpiece, and Neeson will factor high on the casting wishlist.
We can only speculate on why Neeson has decided to embrace this berserker side of himself, but we would certainly like to take advantage of it by suggesting ten things he could fight in his next films.
The Ghost and the Darkness didn't exactly make Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer paragons of cool. But that's because they aren't Neeson. Imagine a spiritual sequel to The Grey in which Neeson crashes a plane (or a hot air balloon) in the middle of the serengeti, and has to fight off hungry lions with whistling thorns held between his battered knuckles.
2. Mount Everest
219 people have died climbing Mount Everest. That's ridiculous! Someone needs to take that mountain down. And I know just the man who can do it. Yes, you've got that right, Liam freaking Neeson. This will also fulfill my desire, spawned entirely out of The Fellowship of the Ring, to actually see a malicious mountain brought down by a man. (Though J.R.R. Tolkien didn't write the "He's trying to bring down the mountain!" line, I think he would appreciate this since he created Fangorn Forest out of just such a fannish Shakespeare wish.)
3. Honey badger
I feel very cheap using a popular Internet meme, but the honey badger is remarkably ferocious and tough. Scientists aren't even worried it will go extinct any time soon because it's so indefatigable, rather like Neeson himself! I picture Neeson as a harassed poultry farmer, dependent on his current crop of chickens to pay for a lifesaving operation for his child. The only thing standing in his way is the voracious appetite of a local honey badger.
I don't want to make light of natural devastation at all. Believe me. But I don't want to see any more lives claimed due to the unforeseen and unspeakable terror that is a tsunami, so it's about time Neeson stepped in and punched the ocean, and then hijacked a submarine and a cement mixer to repair the fault lines. This seems like wonky science, but in Neeson's hands, it will be good.
Every good action hero has to fight a shark at some point. Angelina Jolie fought a hammerhead in Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life. Samuel L. Jackson grappled briefly with one in Deep Blue Sea. James Bond has fought a few in his time. Batman had shark repellent especially for the occasion. Even Snake Plissken dodged one in Escape from L.A. (I know it's supposed to be the JAWS animatronic, but why is it self-aware?) It's a tired cinematic device, but if Brody and Hooper can survive a shark, then Neeson has to prove he can. It's just a point of honor.
6. Golden Eagle
Scoff if you like about an eagle fighting a man, but the Golden Eagle is one of the largest and most powerful birds of prey in the world. It can hunt and kill wolves, adult deer, antelope, sheep, and young caribou. There is even one confirmation they can kill brown bear cubs, which a fevered imagination could take as evidence they fought the mother bear to get it. Regardless, they could kill and eat an adult human... unless that human was Neeson, who has already fought wolves, so these two predators need to duke it out to see who comes out on top. Also, I imagine Neeson's adorable pet deer needs rescuing, so he just has to fight it.
7. Kodiak bear
Man versus bear movies are probably as overdone as sharks (The Night of the Grizzly, Grizzly Rage, The Edge, The Bear, etc.), but all the more reason Neeson needs to step in, freshen it up, and remind people just how awesome it is to see a man fight an animal that can stand up on two feet, and hug a man to death. One could also substitute "polar bear" since there haven't been nearly as many man versus polar bear movies made. Ideally, he goes against the bear because it ate Sean Bean in the first five cinematic minutes, and he has to seek justice.
You may think of ostriches as clumsy, ugly birds who can't fly, and merely bury their head in the sand when threatened. You couldn't be more wrong. Ostriches may be the closest thing to a velociraptor that a human can encounter. Ostriches would prefer to run away from you, but if push comes to shove, they'll happily kick you to death. And by "kicking you to death," I mean "disembowel you with one kick of their powerful foot." I can't imagine why Neeson would need to corner an ostrich – I imagine it kidnapped his nephew, his dog, or Bradley Cooper – but I think he's the one man who wouldn't go down with a single kick.
9. The Kardashians
The world seems incapable of getting rid of them or reporting on them. I've been forced to know who they are purely out of 24 hour bombardment, and that annoys me. It's time we got serious about taking care of them, and all their reality driven ilk. Release the Neeson!
10. Liam Neeson
Once this list is cleared (and probably another ten or twenty things are added to it – the world is a very dangerous place, and nature is red in tooth and claw), there will be only one person left for Neeson to fight: himself. Because you know there is some top secret government facility that has cloned Neeson, and plans to use that clone for evil. Luckily, we'll still have the lean, mean, and warm-hearted original who will take care of that pesky problem. (In an ideal film, this clone would be played not by CGI, but by Daniel Day-Lewis.)