The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Liam Neeson

In this week's column, Benj Eckford turns to Liam Neeson's filmography - a canon with a vast array of good, bad and ugly films

9th May 2016

The Good: Michael Collins (1996)

Liam Neeson has made many great performances in his time, but this has to be the best. He gives a towering portrayal of the legendary Irish guerrilla who, even if you disagree with his politics, is irresistibly heroic and likable.

It is a far better role for Neeson than his other notable historical role, that of Oskar Schindler, because it gives him a more versatile and lively character. Collins is a wry guerrilla leader one minute, a loyal friend the next, and a philosopher the minute after that. As with all historical epics, it has to take some liberties with the facts, but it makes for a hugely enjoyable story.

The Bad: A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)

have a fondness for Liam Neeson’s spate of action films, but this was a misstep. Think Taken in a graveyard.

Despite the merits of having Neeson and Dan Stevens among the cast, the plot is horribly thought through and therefore impossible to follow. There is no thread, no message, structure or real story to follow, and its attempts to bring edge and fear through allusions to gore and torture, it simply serves to turn my stomach, much like the film as a whole. Worse than Taken 2, that’s how bad we’re talking.

The Ugly: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Okay, confession here, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, but I won’t refrain from admitting that this is the worst of the seven films. It fell so flat, so hard, in 1999, and with good reason.

Whether it’s the poor plot, the annoying, racially-stereotyping characters or the lacklustre, stiff, awkward dialogue, there is a lot to complain about in this film. It has its upsides, and Neeson’s performance is certainly one of them. He and the equally good Ewan McGregor made a good on-screen pair, and we sadly did not see enough of them.

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