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.

Movie Review: Memory

The movie career/trend with Liam Neeson continues. Momentum from the strength of the extremely good movie Taken, released in 2008, Neeson has made around 50 movies since then, and none of them come even close to the quality of Taken. One way of looking at this is that so many movies since Taken that are average or below average makes everyone appreciate how good Taken was 14 years ago. Another way of looking at this is, why is Neeson making so many average and bad movies? He has probably made more movies by far, than any other actor in Hollywood. Is it better to wait and then make a high quality production or risk damaging your career by making so many movies that are lower quality?

After seeing “Memory” – about a hit man with Alzheimer’s involved with a complicated series of hit man contracts – I was wondering how anyone who read this script would understand it, much less greenlight it. So why was this movie made? In this blog I have cited many times my theories of Hollywood deals, paybacks, favors and deals with friends. Quite simply this muddled and bad script should never have been made into a movie, because it is far from good enough. Unfortunately it seems that Neeson is involved in some kind of movie assembly line, where he just continues to act in bad productions (with 4 more in the pipeline) with total disregard to quality. Quantity over quality is never a good idea, within any industry.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Memory is a very low 30% and unfortunately I agree with this very low number and cannot recommend this mostly bad film.

Movie Review: Backlight

Every year around this time, one can depend on a new Liam Neeson action movie to be released. This is also the time of the year that some of the weakest movies of each year are released. Unfortunately for Neeson just about all of the movies he has made since the huge hit Taken in 2008 have been about him playing just about the same character every time. This is not only the problem with this movie, but is also the main reason for the extremely low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes of only 6%. For the record, this movie is not a 6% rating, but it is not any better than 50% either. We have seen all of this before, with the one exception that this time around Neeson is a fixer of other agents who go rogue and its his job to save them and turn them around.

Other issues with this story is the skipping-around-mix-it-up-confusing scenes that very often are not connected enough, making most of the story annoying. One theory I have always had about Liam Neeson is that he makes so many movies because he is still trying to get over his wife dying in a very tragic freak skiing accident in 2009. Unfortunately, making this many movies and way too many bad ones may eventually wreck his acting career.

There is no way anyone could recommend Backlight, which also has a title that makes no sense.