12 Best Liam Neeson Movies, Ranked
Liam Neeson has been in operation for more than four decades. The hit titan covered every genre, from drama to horror, to musicals, to romance, to comedy, to action. It’s no surprise that Neeson has retained his A-list star status, given that he continues to expand his comfort zone, even become a real action star well into their 50s with the ever-popular Taken In 2008.
To say the actor has reach would be an understatement, which is why he has so many fans from so many demographics. With so many movies under his belt since 1978, we decided to take a look at the legendary comedian’s work and narrow it down to his top 12 films.
It’s not easy to pick just ten movies from a filmography that includes over 100 acting credits. Neeson is a workaholic, and it shows in every frame. It’s no wonder authors such as Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have chosen to work with him over the years. Neeson appeals to everyone and all genders, and this list reflects that.
Update: If you’re here for Liam Neeson and all his great work, you’ll be glad to know that this article was updated by Jessica Gardner in May 2022.
12 dark man
Before playing in batman beginsNeeson played a superhero from Frankenstein-esque proportions in dark man. Directed by Sam Raimi and written as an ode to universal monster movies, dark man is a bloody, strange and tragic film that Neeson’s Dr. Peyton Wilder carries on his mutilated back. At the time, Neeson was a relatively unknown actor, but Universal rolled the dice on the casting due to both Raimi the evil Dead the success of the franchise and the success of Tim Burton’s Batman the previous year. Contrary to Schindler’s list, released three years later, Neeson’s Dr. Wilder is loud, boisterous and unpredictable. It’s a fun performance to revisit.
11 love in fact
In love in fact Neeson plays a widower named Daniel who comes to terms with the loss of his beloved wife, while staying behind to raise his stepson Sam. While helping his young son through his own grief, his son is discovered to be in love with a of his classmates, Joanna. The pair eventually bond over a social experiment of helping Sam get his crush’s attention, which includes learning an instrument to play in the school talent show.
Although on its surface it looks like a Neeson vs. Arctic Wolves action movie, it’s also a thoughtful meditation on death and the fleeting nature of life. One of Neeson’s first forays into the action genre, Grey was filmed under conditions as brutal as the attacks of the wolves on the characters. Neeson shot the film seven hours a night in -35 degrees, with the cameras, cast and crew constantly freezing, while still managing to deliver a compelling performance. He delivers the film’s verbal motif with irresistible passion, “Once more into the fray. In the last good fight, I’ll never know. Live and die this day. Live and die this day.” With such nuance, it gives audiences chills akin to being in the sub-zero wilderness of Alaska.
9 A monster is calling
In A monster is calling, Neeson voices the monster, and his deep, growling voice is perfect for the voice-over performance. As close to a family movie on this list, Neeson’s tree monster, simply named “The Monster,” initially a source of fear for the boy in the film, ultimately serves as a sounding board and vehicle to help him make facing his dying mother while she endures her chemotherapy treatments. In a tale of allegorical stories, childhood fantasies and escapism, Neeson delivers one of his finest performances to date.
8 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
In another popular voice role, Neeson takes on the mystical King of Beasts Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia film series, although he’s featured in every film in the franchise, his role is most prominent in the first installment. Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Neeson’s unique voice is the perfect pair for the wise and all-knowing Aslan, who author CS Lewis says portrays Jesus Christ in the books. Neeson does for the Chronicles of Narnia what James Earl Jones did for The Lion King.
You’ve probably quoted Neeson’s iconic “I’ll Find You” monologue in that film, or at least heard your friends, acquaintances, or various pop culture parodies do so. In Taken, Neeson embodies a man with very special skills who, after the kidnapping of his daughter, embarks on a solo killing spree to save her. It was the film that solidified Neeson as an action star and sparked two successful sequels. Yet this film remains the best of the trilogy, simply because audiences had not been exposed to the physical dexterity, vengeful tone of voice and explosive anger that Neeson had buried within him, and the revenge formula of the trilogy was fresh and exciting.
6 honest thief
honest thief places Neeson at the center of an FBI scandal. As a former bank robber wanted by federal authorities, Neeson’s character, Tom Dolan, another former Marine, makes a deal with the FBI, only to be double-crossed, as the agents who capture him are looking for the money he stored. Dolan wasn’t in it for the money, but rather for the thrill of getting away with breaking the law. Punch fights, car chases and unexpected explosions – these are all ingredients for a great Neeson action movie, in which, of course, the seasoned actor always emerges victorious. Neeson was generally praised by critics for his ability to carry the film.
5 The sniper
One of Neeson’s most recent and current action thrillers, The sniper shows rancher Jim Hanson taking on a Mexican cartel. Jim, a former marine becomes the protector of a young Mexican fleeing the sicarios of the cartel. After calling the Border Patrol, things only get worse and Jim must come to terms with the damage he has caused, so he decides to take the young boy to his family in Chicago. The sniper is a dark story of corruption, failure and redemption. Neeson is generally strong as a quiet farmer turned badass caretaker, willing to put his life on the line for justice – a common theme across all of his action characters.
4 The ice road
Someone had to make an ice road trucker thriller, which a hugely popular show was made on. And fans and critics alike were glad they did it with Neeson leading the cast. The ice road tells the story of an ice driver who embarks on an impossible rescue mission after a diamond mine collapses in a remote area of Canada. Neeson must cross a frozen ocean to save the lives of miners trapped in the crash, as the ocean thaws and the threat of corrupt insurance company agents closes in on him. Neeson plays a subdued, albeit resolute character, suffering from both PTSD and aphasia, admirably expressing mental illness. Netflix bought the rights to the film for the hefty sum of $18 million.
3 batman begins
Christopher Nolan’s first movie The Dark Knight Trilogy, batman begins took an entirely new and serious direction in the superhero genre – one that films like this would attempt to emulate in years to come. Neeson brought popular villain Ra’s al Ghul to life from the DC comics with both pathos and cunning intelligence. Standing at 6’4″, Neeson’s on-screen presence intimidates even young Bruce Wayne throughout the film. It doesn’t hurt that Neeson brings a fair amount of combat prowess and smart, tangy one-liners to his performance. It’s an iconic role he would return to in the third and final chapter of the trilogy, The dark knight rises.
Silencea 159-minute film based on the true story of 17th-century Jesuit priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver), who embark on a journey to Japan to rescue their mentor (Neeson), marks Neeson’s second film with Scorsese after New York Gangs. Neeson gives a moderate performance. Through his character, who denounced Jesus, became a Buddhist, and inherited a Japanese family of executed Japanese Christian men, Scorsese creates a cautionary tale of the perils of missionaries crossing their borders, as the Japanese people have never had need to be saved. Neeson lost nearly 20 during the difficult production schedule. Although Silence isn’t Scorsese’s most popular film, it’s a passion project he spent thirty years trying to achieve, and that says a lot about the fact that he chose Neeson as one of his main characters.
1 Schindler’s list
Arguably Steven Spielberg’s most critically acclaimed film, Schindler’s list, based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, made Neeson a star. The film covers Schindler’s establishment of an enamel factory employing essential Jewish workers to prevent them from being taken to concentration camps, his close relationship with the Nazi SS, his change of heart to save as many Jews as possible and its ultimate prevention of the kidnapping of Jews. from the city of Brünnlitz to Auschwitz. Through Spielberg’s use of black, white, and red, he emphasizes Schindler’s turnaround, which Neeson describes so eloquently. Neeson doesn’t play a man with a perfect moral compass, and the intricacies of that are portrayed to perfection thanks to his subtle facial expressions and soft voice.
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