The Essential Liam Neeson

Schindler's List star Neeson

Is there any doubt that Liam Neeson is everyone’s favorite geriatric badass, the man who has successfully shed his “serious actor” label in order to play a variation of the same character over and over to great box office appeal? In the past decade or so, he he trained Batman and Obi-Wan Kenobi, fought wolves with his bare hands, and generally has kicked more ass since he turned 50 than most people do their entire life.

But while Neeson has done some serious work in his career, his filmography is peppered with fare like “Darkman” just as much as “Michael Collins” or “Schindler’s List.” So without further ado, here are the Liam Neeson roles you can’t get by without seeing.

Schindler’s List (1993): Neeson’s most famous role, and the easiest selection to make on this list. A tour de force, an “important” film that garnered Neeson an Oscar nomination, his portrayal of the German businessman who saved the lives of countless Jews is unforgettable and haunting.

Next of Kin (1989): What? Liam Neeson as the big brother of a family of mountainfolk in a Patrick Swayze vehicle? Yes, indeed, he plays Swayze’s big bro in this revenge thriller. Of course he did, because he’s Liam Neeson, and he can do what he wants. And he did it well, too.

Batman Begins (2005): As Ducard, Neeson not only plays mentor to Bruce Wayne, he turns out to be the big bad, Ra’s Al Ghul. A terrific if not totally unexpected plot twist, he spends quite a bit of screentime beating on Batman. What’s more, his presence resonates through Christoppher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, even if he only really appears in the first film (okay, so he does have a cameo in “The Dark Knight Rises”).

The Grey (2011): Famous for his broken-booze-bottle-gloves standoff with a pack of wolves, “The Grey” is actually a haunting portrait of love and loss, made all the more poignant that Neeson was mourning the death of wife Miranda Richardson. A must-see.

Michael Collins (1996): Neeson as the titular Irish freedom fighter, “Michael Collins” took place during Neeson’s historical biopic phase (see also Roy, Rob), Neeson commands the screen.

Taken (2008): Yes, his “particular set of skills” has been a cliche for several years now, but it he’s gotten plenty of mileage from that catchphrase. Essentially his past 4 films have been an alternate version of “Taken,” and I’m not even counting the increasingly ridiculous sequels.

Neeson Batman Begins The Grey Neeson Schindler's List star Neeson Michael Collins, Liam Neeson Liam Neeson in Taken Liam Neeson in Next of Kin

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