Maybe There Actually Should Be a Liam Neeson Day

If you saw New Girl last week, then Eagle fans are to Nick as Michael Vick is to Jess. We’re his emotional fluffer. We get all the perils and frustrations of the relationship while Atlanta fans already got the rewards when he was actually good. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been this frustrated as an Eagles fan. That is all.

One link and because it’s a pretty slow day, some trailer catch-up:

one of the most remarkable career turnarounds you're going to see

It’s officially time to start considering the career of Liam Neeson as one of the strangest and most impressive in movie star history. Whether it was an agent change, a management change or whatever, how many actors or actresses have been to do what he’s done, gone from artsy, Oscar-caliber actor to sought-after, tentpole action hero over a 20-year span? The transformation is officially complete after Taken 2 made $50 million this weekend, making it the 11th biggest opening of the year. In the 90s, When you were looking to fill roles like “sad but caring dad,” “overbearing meanie with a heart of gold” or “stand up guy,” you looked to Neeson. Then 10 years after he was introduced for good to American audiences in Next of Kin, he plays a Jedi and runs around in controlled chaos and gets hit with more typecasting as the voice of reason for our heroes (Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, the Narnia series). Then finally, finally, at age 56, when most action stars are holding on to the last shreds of their their masculinity, Neeson gets lucky with Taken, and now everyone wants him in their action movie. He makes A-Team, both Clash of the Titans movies, The Next Three Days, Unknown, The Grey another Taken and has another action movie (Non-Stop) in the pipeline. Who does that? Has it ever happened in movie history, where you go from arthouse favorite to action hero? The closest I can think is Angelina Jolie, but her career path was much clearer. Even though she was strictly indie to start, she hit the scene in 1995, won her Oscar in 1999, but then was in Gone in 60 Seconds in 2000 and Tomb Raider in 2001. Neeson is pretty close to being a Hollywood trailblazer at this point. But on the other end of the spectrum, what does it say about the state of action stars these days that a 60-year-old is able to waltz in an steal their thunder? I think I’m breaking this down tomorrow, and from my initial research, it doesn’t look good for action movies.

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (Feb. 14)

Let’s face it. At this point, John McClane is a caricature of himself. We know this crap can’t keep happening to the same person, over and over again. It’s not like he’s James Bond, whose profession it is to put himself in these situations. Even if he has to deal with Lea Michele every now and then. He’s a cop who randomly gets thrown into ridiculous situations that require him to save the world. They made fun of it in Die Hard 2, Die Hard 3’s revenge premise seemed totally plausible (I’m actually not being sarcastic), but then we put McClane on the shelf for 13 years, and yeah, he got a little stale. Please note, by “a little” I actually mean “bag of Cheerios that’s been left out on the counter for 18 months” stale. And he’s still going to be stale on Valentine’s Day next year. But I’m not going to apologize for still getting goosebumps when I get McClane back in my life. Or that I actually think this doesn’t look half bad. What I will most definitely get angry about is McClane, or his son, being from Plainfield. I refuse to believe that and will block that from my memory. And in five years when I’m watching it for the 53rd time on FX, and I know that part is coming, I will change the channel quickly and deliberately. I’m hoping it’s one of those trailer scenes that get cut from the movie. It’s a long story, just know I’m personally offended. GRADE: C+, dumped a whole letter grade for the Plainfield thing.

PROMISED LAND (Limited Dec. 28)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Matt Damon and his buddy write a movie and hire Gus Van Sandt to direct it. Then Damon and said buddy (this time, John Krasinski) star in the movie. Yeah, I’ve heard it before too, I just don’t see Damon pulling over at a playground and beating up a Carmine Scarpaglia-type or drinking beer at a random Little League game this time around. I’m always wary of a movie that has been made for the almost specific purpose of winning an Oscar, and this one sure seems like it has. Past all the Good Will Hunting similarities, it’s a fictional version of Gasland — which was nominated for an Oscar. But man, is this gonna get some ink and TV time around here, one of the biggest natural gas battlegrounds in the country. Even though it already seems like a retread two months before it hits theaters, when you break it down, it’s Damon+Krasinski+Van Sant = me there opening weekend. It just seems like they’re taking what should be an interesting prestige movie and breaking it down to formulaic boredom. TRAILER GRADE: B-.

NOT FADE AWAY (Limited Dec. 21)

You’re going to have to do better than that, David Chase. Sure, you want to break out of The Sopranos mold, you want to make sure your first movie is nothing, repeat: NOTHING, like your show that defined TV for almost a decade. You’ve probably been offered to direct about 50 mob movies in the last five years, and you’ve turned them all down in a heartbeat without even looking at the script. We get it. But that doesn’t mean you should be making a dramatic version of That Thing You Do as your first feature, seeing as taking the humor out of That Thing You Do would be eliminating its best and most enduring quality. But go ahead, you can at least hold on to something, you can put James Gandolfini in it in a small role, but then put him in about half the trailer because he’s the only one people will recognize. I’m on to you, buddy. I’m on to you. TRAILER GRADE: C.

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