The next installment of the “Liam Neeson but on a _____” series.
Taken on a plane. Taken on a train. Liam keeps Taken us all for rides on whatever god d*** vehicle he can get his hands on. He’s probably going on a boat next, but let’s get more creative. Screw boats anyway. We’ve already seen “Speed 2” and that went real swimmingly. Put him on a hoverboard. F*** it. Let’s see him strap skateboards to both feet and see him get out of that one Edward 40-Hands style. But OK, so this train one.
Whatever happened to B-movies? I mean true B-movies, ones where the goal is explicitly to entertain and never anything more. No extended universe to set up or sequel to plug in a post credits sequence. Simply two hours of pure, unadulterated exhilaration as a seemingly 80-year-old Liam Neeson fumbles his way through an incoherent plot including one of the best pre-death one-liners in recent action movie history: that conductor really knew it was going to be that train.
I’m glad that movies like this are still being given a fighting chance. And that’s not to say that B-movies are inherently worse in every filmmaking discipline across the board. The techniques present in this film are better than most other action movies made today, with the title sequence perfectly establishing Neeson’s monotonous but constantly moving world, only to be shaken in the next scene when he loses his title-less banking job. However, it’s once the film reaches the train sequences that director Jaume Collet-Serra gets to showcase his mastery of small-scale filmmaking. He creates a whole world inside of this single train, utilizing many of the techniques from “Snowpiercer” but in a much more real-world style. The cinematography is both intimate and expansive and never lingers for too long. Collet-Serra is the master of bringing claustrophobic locales right to the edge where it doesn’t feel suffocating, but the threat of that suffocating is always there. Neeson is the perfect leading man to fill these locales, with his presence commanding the entirety of the subway riders’ attentions.
The credits sequence, designed like traditional subway maps, is more creative and aesthetically pleasing than every Woody Allen title sequence put together. Movies like this shouldn’t be disrespected just because they are trying to be something more than they are. This movie understands exactly what it is, and it’s precisely that confidence that allows it so succeed as much as it does and lets its failures fall to background where they belong. Liam Neeson, I will write a movie for you where you’re being pulled in a little red wagon by Charlize Theron wearing Heelys. I actually already started. I’ll have my people talk to your people.