Liam Neeson Is Too Good for ‘Taken’ Sequels

The trailer for the third Taken film, Tak3n, has been released, and features Liam Neeson fighting against all the law enforcement the United States has to offer when he’s framed for his ex-wife’s murder shortly after the pair reconciles. It’s only the latest in a long line of action films that Neeson is just too good an actor to be making.

The first Taken film starred Neeson using his now-famous “particular set of skills” to track down the members of a sex trade operation that kidnapped his teenage daughter and her friend while they were on vacation in Europe alone. Neeson’s character in the franchise is ex-covert operative Bryan Mills, who has honed some of the world’s best fighting, hiding, running, and killing skills with the U.S. military. Taken was a huge success when it came out back in 2009 and revived Neeson’s career after taking a few years off. It made $145 million at the box office domestically during its run in theaters, according to figures from Box Office Mojo, and the sequel made $139 million in 2012.

Taken didn’t do very well with critics, but it wasn’t the kind of movie that was designed to sweep awards ceremonies. The film is supposed to be thrilling and fun, and watching Neeson crack the skulls of various European mobsters while searching for his beloved daughter achieved that. Unfortunately, it also achieved getting Neeson typecast in similar parts.

Neeson is well-known now for doing frequently sub-par action films that it can be easy to forget this is the actor who also portrayed Oskar Schindler in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, a role that nabbed him an Oscar nomination. That film is frequently cited as one of the greatest movies of all time, in part due to Neeson’s performance as the German businessman who saved Jews during the Holocaust by employing them to work in his factory.

Neeson also appeared in the highly acclaimed Woody Allen film Husbands and Wives, was a voice in last year’s animated hit The Lego Movie, and played groundbreaking sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in the biopic about the doctor, Kinsey. Schindler’s List wasn’t just a one-off good film for Neeson — the actor is capable of playing characters other than violent men who need to protect or avenge someone, but for some reason just doesn’t.

Obviously, Neeson is an actor capable of much better things than an endless number of Taken sequels and rip-offs. His most recent release, A Walk Among the Tombstones, is about a former cop who must bring some hardcore criminals to justice. The actor recently said that the third Taken film would be the last in the franchise, but it looks like more action movies are what’s on the table for Neeson. His next film Run All Night is about an aging hitman who’s forced to take on his former boss to protect his family. Does that plot sound a little familiar?

The actor is currently filming Ted 2 with Seth MacFarlane, which is hardly Schindler’s List, but does see him branching out into comedy rather than only sticking with formulaic action movies. However, it is worth noting that Neeson also appeared in MacFarlane’s first live-action effort A Million Ways to Die in the West, which bombed.

There is some hope on the horizon, though. The upcoming adaptation of Patrick Ness’ fantasy novel A Monster Calls is being groomed for the festival circuit. The story is about a young boy who copes with his mother’s illness and bullying by escaping into a fantasy world, where Neeson will play the titular monster, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It has been announced that Neeson will star alongside Andrew Garfield in Silence, an upcoming movie about a pair of Jesuit priests in the seventeenth century who travel to Japan to help spread Christianity.

Those two films offer some hope for the actor’s resume, and hopefully the end of the Taken franchise, plus his own aging, will begin to curtail Neeson’s action roles for more serious fare.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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