Reality Bites (Darkman)
The Moment: Neeson’s character in Darkman finally realises the grim reality of his situation, looking at his mutilated body and shrieking, “they took my hands… THEY TOOK MY HANDS!”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Despite the film’s cartoonish nature, Neeson deserves credit for his creation of a very human monster.
Last Stand (The Mission)
The Moment: Liam’s big moment arrives in The Mission when it falls to him and a couple of colleagues to defend the colonists from their would-be “educators”. Still, if ever a holy man were made for a scrap…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: All due respect to Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons, but we’d rank Neeson above them in the battle-against-the-odds stakes every time.
Mentor (The Phantom Menace)
The Moment: Qui-Gon gives Obi-Wan a few tips on Jedi mastery: “Don't center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.” In other words, stop being such a jessie and have that lightsaber ready…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Ewan McGregor might be a bit of a wet blanket, but fortunately Neeson is gruff enough for the pair of them.
The Moment: Darkman doesn’t take kindly to being confined to the burn ward in Sam Raimi’s barmy adventure, the viewer being taken on a wild ride through the titular herpo’s twisted psyche, before he makes his sudden escape. Who left that window open?
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson doesn’t have much to do here save roll his eyes a bit and generally look a bit mad, but he does it beautifully.
Stand-Off (The Grey)
The Moment: Having been pursued through the wilderness by a pack of angry wolves, Neeson leads his band of rag-tag survivors into a tense stand-off with their lupine aggressors. After a nerve-wracking face-off, the wolves grudgingly melt back into the night. Phew!
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: It might seem odd that the wolves choose not to attack, but then again, Neeson really does look up for a scrap.
Silent Treatment (Suspect)
The Moment: Cher attempts to question Neeson’s murder suspect, before realising that he is both deaf and mute. Looks like it’s going to be a tricky case.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson is excellent as Carl Wayne Anderson, conveying a weight of emotion without uttering a word. Cher on the other hand…
Hammer Time (Kingdom Of Heaven)
The Moment: Neeson’s character in Kingdom Of Heaven , is unimpressed by a prisoner’s boast that he is worthy of ransom. “This is true,” he remarks disinterestedly, as an underling ploughs a hammer into the poor sod’s skull.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: There’s a grisly nonchalance about the way Liam signs this chap’s death warrant. He doesn’t even bother to watch his execution…
Do I Know You? (Unknown)
The Moment: Unknown ’s key plot point is revealed as Neeson’s wife proclaims not to know who he is, while a man with the same name as him steps in an introduces himself. Liam looks understandably baffled…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Throughout the scene you can see Neeson grappling with the urge to break his replacement’s face and leave with his wife over one shoulder. Somehow, he manages to restrain himself.
Gesture (Schindler's List)
The Moment: Schindler bribes a Nazi guard charged with accompanying a train of Jews to spray the cars with water at each stop, allowing its human cargo a much-needed drink. It’s a small gesture, but an important demonstration of Schindler’s conscience.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: He plays both sides of his character perfectly here, from toadying laughter with the attendant Nazis to anguished concern for the wretched passengers.
Parklife (A Prayer For The Dying)
The Moment: Neeson confronts Mickey Rourke’s IRA bomber in a park, pulling a gun on his old friend in an unbearably tense face-off.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Rourke and director Mike Hodges both disowned the project after its release, but Neeson is superb as steely IRA man Docherty.
I Am The Resurrection (The Chronicles Of Narnia)
The Moment: Wise old Aslan returns from the dead during The Chronicles Of Narnia , coming over all Messianic as he returns for another crack at the White Queen.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Without Neeson’s rich delivery, Aslan wouldn’t seem half as imposing. As it is, he’s a force to be reckoned with…
Familiar Face (The Dark Knight Rises)
The Moment: Bruce Wayne finds himself at his lowest ebb in The Dark Knight Rises , fantasizing that the deceased Ra’s al Ghul has returned to taunt him. “I watched you die,” breathes Wayne, disbelievingly. “I told you I was immortal,” chuckles his old foe.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: His return adds to the feeling of things coming full circle in the final Batman film, while it’s a pleasure to see Neeson getting his bad guy on once more.
The Penny Drops (Chloe)
The Moment: Chloe reaches fever pitch when Julianne Moore drags husband Neeson to a diner in order to confront him over his supposed betrayal. However, when he shows no flicker of recognition of Amanda Seyfried’s unhinged call girl, Moore realises that something is terribly amiss…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Having played his character as a coolly callous bastard, Neeson skilfully wins the audience over with a mixture of righteous indignation and eventual forgiveness. He’s not such a bad guy after all!
Three Way (The Phantom Menace)
The Moment: Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan face down Darth Maul in Phantom Menace ’s climactic lightsaber battle. A rare high point amongst the exploits of Jar-Jar and friends…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson brings a dose of much-needed badassery to proceedings, a trait that he plays up to the full here. “We’ll handle this,” he growls, as the rest of the gang scatter like ninepins…
No Pain No Gain (Kingdom Of Heaven)
The Moment: Neeson establishes the pedigree of Kingdom Of Heaven ’s Godfrey of Ibelin, proclaiming, “ I once fought two days with an arrow through my testicle.” Oof.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Look into his eyes as he says it… it seems plausible, doesn’t it?
Against The Clock (Kinsey)
The Moment: During his sexual research project, Alfred Kinsey is confronted by a man who claims to be able to reach erection and then ejaculation within ten seconds. Having had his assertion doubted, said subject proceeds to whip it out to prove his point…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: This scene is all about Neeson’s reaction shots. His expression is priceless throughout!
Training Sequence (Batman Begins)
T he Moment: Ducard teaches Bruce Wayne the way of the League Of Shadows, testing his combat skills, powers of misdirection and, crucially, his awareness of his surroundings.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson is masterful as Ducard, balancing fatherly encouragement with a healthy amount of needle to ensure Bruce remains on his.
Chopper Ride (Darkman)
The Moment: Darkman dangles from Larry Drake’s helicopter, swinging between skyscrapers, running along trains, slamming through windows, and generally wreaking havoc. Sam Raimi at his most gleefully chaotic.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Big Liam sells the “oh shit” factor nicely before telling his adversary to “kiss your ass goodbye” as he sends his copter careening into a tunnel. Kaboom!
Domestic Violence (Taken)
The Moment: Bryan Mills shows off his feral side in Taken , fighting off a whole gang of henchmen in a kitchen-set tear-up. This is what happens when you leave knives out on the work-top…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson brings a raw physicality to his action scenes that belie his advancing years. This is a fight scene that even Bourne would be proud of!
Secret Smile (Les Misererables)
The Moment: Neeson stars as Valjean in this 1998 adaptation of Victor Hugo’s acclaimed novel, bringing the curtain down on his tale of hardship with a hard-earned smile at the film’s climax.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Having been through the mill for the majority of the film, its richly rewarding to see Valjean achieve his redemption, and it helps that Neeson is such a likeable screen presence.
I Am Your Father (Kingdom Of Heaven)
The Moment: Kingdom Of Heaven has made its big reveal, with Neeson and Orlando Bloom having a Skywalker moment, when Neeson is asked whether he regrets any of his sins. “All but one,” he says, looking at his illegitimate son. We’re welling up…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Discovering Liam is your dad is the equivalent of winning the familial lottery. Here he is again, doing gruff paternal affection like a champ!
Beyond Nuts (The A-Team)
The Moment: As the A-Team discuss Hannibal’s latest scheme, Face exclaims, “this is beyond nuts, Boss.” As he take a drag on his cigar, the camera zooms in on Neeson, who remarks, “it gets better”, chuckling as he does so.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson plays Hannibal with his tongue ever so slightly tucked inside his cheek, but never crosses over into full-on pastiche. Better still, he looks like he’s having a whale of a time throughout!
Revenge (Seraphim Falls)
The Moment: Neeson’s grizzled civil war veteran tracks down long-standing nemesis Pierce Brosnan, reminiscing over the wartime death of his family, before eventually deciding to spare his enemy.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson plays the embittered badass with consummate menace. “Ain’t you gonna ask me to spare you Captain?” he sneers. “Ain’t that what cowards are supposed to say? Just as well… because I ain’t planning on it.”
The Moment: Neeson crops up in John Boorman’s Excalibur as Gawain, engaging Lancelot in a fearsome duel. Incredibly, he comes off on the losing side, albeit only after pushing Lancelot to his absolute limit…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: As this was early in his career, seeing Neeson defeated in battle wasn’t quite as shocking as it would be now. He still shows plenty of action potential, mind…
Unleash Hell (Clash Of The Titans)
The Moment: Zeus decides the time has come to unleash hell, by commanding a terrible sea-creature to wreak havoc upon the defiant mortals. “Release the Kraken,” he yells, and things begin to get ugly…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: It requires a certain presence to boom out the aforementioned line without it sounding a bit daft. Neeson has that presence.
Drive Angry (Unknown)
The Moment: Neeson completes his apparent transformation into Jason Bourne with this hair-raising car chase in Unknown , involving a game of chicken with a tram and all manner of near-collisions with nearby pedestrians.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson drives the way he fights… hard.
Lifes Too Short (Life's Too Short)
The Moment: Not a movie moment, we know, but we couldn’t ignore Neeson’s cameo in Ricky Gervais's Life’s Too Short , as he announces his decision to move into stand-up comedy.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: He plays it wonderfully deadpan, especially when he moves into his AIDS material. There’s also a brilliant air of menace underpinning the whole thing. “Let’s do some improvisational comedy… now.”
Opening Salvo (The A-Team)
The Moment: Neeson introduces himself as Hannibal in The A-Team ’s opening scene, escaping a posse of corrupt Mexican police officers in fine style…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson plays Hannibal with all the panache of the original, but ditches the occasional smugness in favour of balls-out exuberance. We like.
Old Lag (The Next Three Days)
The Moment: Neeson only makes a brief appearance in The Next Three Days , but he makes it count, stealing his scene as Damon Pennington, an old lag and expert prison-breaker.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: It takes some doing to out-macho Russell Crowe, but Neeson is the man for the job. “Before you do anything,” he growls, “you have to ask yourself if you can do it. If you can’t, don’t start… you’ll just get someone killed."
Ras Returns (Batman Begins)
The Moment: Liam Neeson reappears in the third act of Batman Begins , revealing “Henri Ducard” to be nothing more than an alter-ego of the terrible Ra’s al Ghul. Minds officially blown.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Ducard always seemed too poised to be a mere underling, and the reveal that he is in fact the big dog himself is a thrilling one
Treaty Time (Michael Collins)
The Moment: Neeson’s Michael Collins does some courtroom grandstanding, as he tries to avert further bloodshed. “Please,” he begins, “let’s save the country. The alternative to this treaty is a war that nobody in this gathering can even contemplate. If the price of freedom, the price of peace, is the blackening of my name… I would gladly pay it.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson’s softly-spoken delivery is every bit as effective as his shoutier efforts elsewhere in the film. Top oratory from the big man.
Sore Throat (Taken)
The Moment: Neeson kicks more than his fair share of arse in Taken , including one particularly bruising fight scene in which he boots a thug in the groin, chops him in the throat then bounces his head off a car bonnet. Pow!
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Kicking a man in the balls doesn’t really seem fair, but since it’s big Liam, you can’t help but cheer him on.
Man With A Plan (The A-Team)
The Moment: Neeson is a riot throughout The A-Team , and when he finally drops his character’s catchphrase, its difficult not to punch the air. All together now… “I love it when a plan comes together.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: George Peppard left big shoes to fill. Fortunately, Neeson has big feet.
Real Power (Schindler's List)
The Moment: Schindler and Goethe share a drink, as the former attempts to convince the latter that true power is the ability to show grace. “Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t,” he explains. “That’s power, Amon. That is power.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: It’s the conviction with which Neeson delivers these lines that cuts through Goethe’s ego and his intoxication. Stirring stuff.
Bye Bye Baby (Love Actually)
The Moment: Love Actually sees Neeson play a bereaved husband struggling to cope with the recent death of his wife. His tearful speech at her funeral is a bona fide choker.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Real men cry, as Neeson demonstrates here with aplomb. Somebody give him a cuddle.
Lone Wolf (The Grey)
The Moment: Ottway, Neeson’s character in The Grey , looks to the skies and swears to believe in God if only he were to receive a sign. When none is forthcoming, he mutters, “Fuck it. I’ll do it myself.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson plays Ottway with a mixture of grit, defiance and depression. All three are on show in this punchy little scene.
Brothers In Arms (Next Of Kin)
The Moment: Neeson shows off his badass side as Patrick Swayze’s hillbilly brother in hicks versus mobsters action caper, Next Of Kin . His signature move? Chucking people out of windows. Simple but effective.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson has thrown more thugs through windows than most people have had hot dinners. It’s a perfect fit.
Swordplay (Rob Roy)
The Moment: Rob Roy comes to a blood-spattered close, as Neeson goes toe to toe with Tim Roth’s foppish Archibald Cunningham in a swordfight to the death. No prizes for guessing who comes out on top…
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: No-one else could grab hold of their rival’s blade and bend it to their will without it looking silly!
Boundary Pushing (Kinsey)
The Moment: Neeson shares a kiss with co-star Peter Sarsgaard as he explores Alfred Kinsey’s conflicted sexuality. Neeson really proves his range here, excelling in a more vulnerable role than his usual type.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Ever the leader of men, it’s great to see Neeson turn in a more subdued performance in Kinsey. And according to Sarsgaard, “he pretty much tried to stuff my head down his throat”!
Dances With Wolves (The Grey)
The Moment: The Grey reaches its bruising finale, as Neeson’s character finally faces down the pack of wolves that have been dogging he and his fellow survivors throughout the film.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: It says a lot for his post- Taken reputation that you fully expect Neeson to come out on top!
Girl In Red (Schindler's List)
The Moment: Oskar Schindler watches on helplessly as a little girl in a red jacket wanders through the streets as all around her, crowds of Jews are shot dead.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: The scene is dialogue-free, but Neeson’s reactions speak volumes. Schindler is deeply troubled by the direction which his country has turned…
Changed Man (Five Minutes Of Heaven)
The Moment: Neeson stars in Five Minutes Of Heaven as former UVF member Alistair Little, giving an electrifying televised speech in which he explains the man he was and the man he has become. “That is why I talk to anybody who would listen now,” he says. “To tell them to stop boys like me thinking that to shoot an innocent, and a decent man in the head, is a good thing.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: The big man is at his very best here, his eyes full of sadness, his voice trembling with emotion.
Backchat (Michael Collins)
The Moment: Michael Collins grants Neeson to stick it to those pesky Brits, as Collins trashes the Southern oppressors at a ceremony to lower the Union Jack. “They can jail us, they can shoot us, they can even conscript us… but we have a weapon more powerful in the whole arsenal of the British Empire. And that weapon is our refusal. Our refusal to bow to any order but our own.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: He’s got the whole rabble-rousing thing down pat. Even Mel Gibson looks half-arsed next to him!
True Romance (Husbands And Wives)
The Moment: Michael and Judy have a blazing row in Woody Allen’s Husbands And Wives , with Judy storming off into the rain. Realising what he could lose, Michael follows her into the elements and begs her to stay.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Amid all the punching, it’s easy to forget that Neeson makes for a compelling romantic lead. This is a good showcase for his softer side.
Pink Elephant (Darkman)
The Moment: Neeson’s supernaturally strong anti-hero Darkman totally loses his shit with a carnival con-artist, demanding a pink elephant for his girlfriend, before twisting the luckless stallholder’s finger into a pretzel.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Long before Taken came along, Neeson was warning celluloid thugs not to piss him off. Pity they never seem to listen…
Man Of God (Gangs Of New York)
The Moment: Neeson makes a brief cameo at the beginning of Gangs Of New York , as battle-hardened warrior, Priest Vallon. After giving young son Amsterdam a last lesson on his Catholic Saints, he heads out to face the fiendish Bill the Butcher.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Neeson is thoroughly convincing as a leader of men, mixing kindly charisma with a mean streak a mile wide.
Darth, Mauled (The Phantom Menace)
The Moment: As the rest of his allies make a run for it, Qui-Gon Jinn manages to hold off Darth Maul single-handedly, before jumping aboard a spacecraft mid-takeoff. Bold.
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: Having Ewan McGregor cope with Maul alone might have cheapened the villain somewhat, but in Neeson’s case? It works.
More Than A Man (Batman Begins)
The Moment: Ducard gives Bruce Wayne the advice that forms the germ of Batman’s entire raison d’etre: “If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely… A legend, Mr. Wayne.”
Why It Needs To Be Neeson: This one is all about gravitas, and Neeson has it in spades. No wonder Bruce is paying attention…
Phone Call (Taken)
The Moment: Bryan Mills lays down the law to his daughter’s kidnappers: “I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have is a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.
Why It Has To Be Neeson: He’s the embodiment of controlled menace. Why didn’t they just let her go?
"I Could Have Got More" (Schindler's List)
The Moment: Oskar Schindler bids the Jews farewell, shaking Stern’s hand before plaintively whispering, “I could have got more out… I could have got more.” There will be tears…
Why It Has To Be Neeson: There’s no grandstanding here, just a heartfelt portrayal of a tortured man. Neeson knows exactly when to rein it in, and he does so brilliantly here.