Movie Review: Marlowe

It has become over the last 12 or so years an annual tradition where Liam Neeson comes out with a new movie around this time of year. The movie is either bad or not very good and the critics give it mostly a bad rating and then, the predictable cycle of a new bad movie happens again around this time next year.

In terms of a great and very relatable action movie, Neeson’s movie “Taken”, released in 2008 is just about the best one ever made. The ending, where his character rescues his daughter after a series of extremely well-made action scenes where he fights criminals in the sex-slavery business in France, is one of the most emotional and relatable ending scenes I have ever seen in any movie. “Taken 2”, was a very solid sequel released 4 years later, and “Taken 3”, was a mostly bad movie, all about making money and not about quality. Unfortunately, Taken 3 ruined the entire Taken movie franchise.

In 2009, Liam Neeson tragically lost his wife, actress Natasha Richardson in a very tragic and fluke skiing accident, where she fell and because of brain swelling, they eventually had to take her off life support. My theory on Neeson and his making movie after movie after this tragedy is that by working, he is trying to distract himself from accepting the loss of his wife in a freak accident. The problem always is that there are so few high-quality screenplays, that making movie after movie without regard to quality might one day ruin an acting career.

The problem with the new movie Marlowe is it is a pale comparison to two Robert Mitchum Phillip Marlowe movies made in 1975 and 1978. This new version is all about a long series of boring conversations where Phillip Marlowe, played by Neeson, is trying to find someone for his client Clare Cavendish, played by Diane Kruger, and her mother Dorothy Cavendish, played by Jessica Lange. With so much boring dialogue and not nearly enough action scenes, it is easy to lose interest or just dose off with a story like this. The story is convoluted and too complicated with too many characters, another problem with this film.

Trying to figure out why 3 highly respected actors could read this boring script and then agree to make the movie, is the same reason as the recent “Maybe I Do”, where well-known actors take a part regardless of quality, only to stay relevant in Hollywood. Rex Reed said it best with this review of Maybe I Do on Rotten Tomatoes: “Maybe I Do is another sad example of what happens to seasoned pros when they hang around long enough to end up in material that is regrettably beneath them. They want to work to keep flagging careers alive, but with worthy vehicles, so few and far between, they’re forced to accept whatever lean projects come their way.

The bottom line is always that a great screenplay is rare and waiting around for that great one that may never happen, might end your career as an actor, just as easily as making too many bad movies. This is clearly a lose-lose problem with being an actor in Hollywood, that in so many cases is more about fluke luck than anything else.

The very low 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for this film this time around is very accurate. This one is a solid miss.