The winter brings many bleak and unfavorable things with it: The bitter cold and snow, the terrifying seasonal migration of Mitch McConnell to Alaska (since he’s a vampire, he feeds ravenously on those in places that can have 24 hours of darkness, a la 40 Days Of Night), an unfavorable sports schedule, and an even more unfavorable film schedule. Really, it feels like there’s just nothing good to see or do out there except suck down a thermos full of Wild Turkey and go sledding on the most dangerous hill you can find, hoping that your drunken actions knock you unconscious, saving you from all the boredom (albeit temporarily). But something has changed in recent years, hasn’t it? For we’ve been graced by whatever god or gods you see fit (Since I neither want to offend or debate it) the wonderful specimen known as Liam Neeson. Yes, THAT Liam Neeson, the Irish superhero who has single-handedly defeated what no one in the industry knows as the Daytime TV Slot of the film release calendar. So let us discuss the only man who should be nominated into sainthood for delivering us from this injustice.
Taken. I don’t need to go any further. I mean, I will, but really, I could have just written the title Taken and everyone would have said: “Yeah, no, OK, sounds reasonable, good point, the man made his contribution to society already.” Coming out in 2009 on the appallingly mundane date of Janurary 30th, this little gem sparked the ReNEESONance, a cultural phenomenon Neeson himself has deemed kind enough to indulge nearly ever winter since then. This ReNEESONance, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, is the sum of Neeson’s efforts to dominate the winter movie season with a yearly dose of ass-kickery, releasing a film somewhere between Janurary through March. The list of cinematic holy grails released post-Taken (2009) reads as follows: Unknown, The Grey, Non-Stop and Taken 3. Of course, the cinematic landscape is riddled with other Neeson centric action movies (Taken 2 was an October release), but we’re here to bow down to the generosity this man has bestowed upon us in a season only skiers and yeti relish.
It’s a scientific non-fact that when Liam Neeson releases an action thriller in the winter, conflicts around the world drop temporarily 40%, most likely due to the number of people who are afraid he’ll beat them up for taking attention away from his film’s premiere. Droughts are suddenly tamed in places his movies open, and Kirk Cameron himself hugs an athiest in the celebration. Neeson’s projects are subject to some Rotten Tomatoes scrutiny (55% for Unknown, 11% for Taken 3), but Neeson is unphased by this, angrily charging headlong into this task, fists clenched like someone kidnapped his movie daughter. The Neeson magic clearly doesn’t work in more hospitable climates: A Walk Among the Tombstones was a respectable pulp thriller that came out last September and got decent reviews, and grossed less than the first weekend of Taken 3. If it’s not January through March, America says NO SALE. Taken 2 was an exception only because the franchise was born during the wintry magic of January.
It is unknown at this time what 2016 will bring for us, but rest assured, he will find a way to re-invade our cinemas sometime in the first quarter. I for one am looking forward to watching him Jason Bourne his way through multitudes of underlings to either save his wife, son or daughter every winter, and it warms the cockles of my heart knowing this will continue indefinitely. As for right now, you can look forward to watching Oskar Schindler wipe the floor with Ed Harris’ goons in Run All Night, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Of Non-Stop and Unknown fame). The film was bumped up from April to March, the tail-end of winter, to keep the Neeson dream alive.