I like to think of myself as somewhat knowledgeable about movies. I'm not quite obsessive (or pretentious) enough to use the term "film buff" (literally, barf), but the qualities I like in a flick skew slightly more high-brow than most. You know, things like complicated characters, whip-smart dialogue, depressing-yet-realistic plot twists, and an overall feel of insight or thoughtfulness.
None of these adjectives can be used to describe anything Liam Neeson has starred in during the last decade, yet for some slightly inexplicable reason I am one of his bigget fans on planet Earth. I have seen every single one of his films (yes, films) and I may or may not have tried to rally a group to attend a midnight showing of Taken 3). I don't even like action movies! I am a huge wimp with a very sensitive stomach who has to close her eyes during basically every fight scene. But all that falls away when I'm in the presence of the Irishman himself. I know I'm not alone in this love of Liam Neeson, but to me, when I'm watching Non-Stop or The Grey, it feels like we're the only two people in the world.
So, it should be of no surprise that the prospect of a new Neeson movie brings me great joy. This winter has been plentiful, first with Taken 3 and now Run All Night opening today. His newest flick is the same avenging action flick we're used to, and follows Liam as he fights (literally) to save his son (The Killing's Joel Kinnaman) from his old crime cronies after a drug deal gone wrong. I know what you're thinking...Oscar material! And yes, I can assure you, it's exactly as amazing as it sounds. I laughed, I cried, I winced, I wondered if Liam Neeson was going to make it out alive.
And, while on this emotional journey, I realized I actually have the same said emotional journey each time I liase with The Nees. And, I'm going to share that journey with you...join me, won't you?
Step 1: Anticipation. Otherwise known as the leadup. I have likely been counting down the days until release on my Taken-themed notepad. When the special evening finally arrives, my palms are sweaty with impatience. What kind of leather jacket will Liam Neeson wear this time? Will he be a good estranged father? How many gunshot wounds is he going to have to stitch up himself? Is he going to kill his best friend to avenge his family's honor? The suspence will literally be killing me, but I listen to a recording of Liam's smooth Irish accent to calm me down.
Step 2: Understanding. Most Liam Neeson movies are advertised in the same way, which means that actually devising a sensical plot out of the trailer material can be tricky. Sure, the basics are there—someone's out to get him, but then he's out to get that person first. But, there comes a point, approximately 20-30 minutes in, when I have my a-ha moment about the intriciacies about this particular flick. You must achieve this stage before you advance to...
Step 3: Attachment. Regardless of how evil or morally bankrupt a Liam Neeson character is, I will always be on his side. His Run All Night persona lives in an especially gray area, yet I still found myself rationalizing his every decision. He's responsible for multiple murders? He must have been forced to choose between their lives or his own! He completely abandoned his young son? It was for his son's own good! I become so attached to the character that I begin to actually think he is Liam Neeson.
Step 4: Euphoria. "This is literally the best movie I have ever seen. I am on the edge of my seat! I literally just jumped out of my seat! How is it possible to have this much fun while watching an old man beat the s--t out of another old man?! I LOVE EVERYTHING!"
Step 5: Alarmingly Moved to Tears. I. Always. Cry. It is physically impossible not to have a visceral reaction to Liam Neeson finally defeating the bad guys/reuniting with his estranged family/being acquitted of whatever crime he was wrongly accused of. He's just tried so hard to save himself/save his family/not be wrongly accused of that crime. Unfortunately, this moment undoubtedly comes at the movie's end, right before the credits roll and the lights go on, leaving me to go sprinting out of the movie theater in an attempt to hide my tear-stained face from my more emotionally robotic fellow moviegoers. Once I finally reach my car/the bathroom/a dark alley outside the theater, I am free to bawl in peace and complete my emotional journey. I am now a changed woman—for the better.
Until next time, Liam Neeson.