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The best Liam Neeson movies, ranked

Liam Neeson at an event
Liam Neeson poses for the camera Karen 司徒嘉蘭 / Flickr

Liam Neeson’s career has been one of the most fascinating in Hollywood history. This Irish screen legend towers over his peers literally (he’s 6’4”) and metaphorically (he’s starred in Academy Award winners and blockbusters alike.) Neeson started out as a supporting actor in the 1980s before supplanting some of the biggest names in the industry. His rise to first-team status in the 1990s can be attributed to his unforgettable performance in Schindler’s List.

Neeson now focuses almost solely on action movies. His distinct, harrowing whisper feels threatening simply because of the sheer knowledge of who’s delivering the lines. Even though he’s one of the world’s best action stars, fans can expect an excellent performance no matter what genre Neeson appears in. These are the best Liam Neeson movies of all time!

10. Rob Roy (1995)

10. Rob Roy
139m
Genre
Adventure, History, Drama, Action, War
Stars
Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt
Directed by
Michael Caton-Jones
Watch on Amazon

Liam Neeson and John Hurt play an entertaining game of Scottish muscle-flexing in the 1700s in a movie that gives Neeson some space to act in his favorite genres: history and action. Themes of family, fighting for what’s right, and the morality of thievery are all featured heavily in a film with a good amount of action and a dose of educational tone. 

9. Gangs of New York (2002)

9. Gangs of New York
168m
Genre
Drama, History, Crime
Stars
Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz
Directed by
Martin Scorsese
Watch on max

Most people will think of Daniel Day-Lewis or Leonardo DiCaprio first when reminiscing about Gangs of New York. Still, Liam Neeson fans will find plenty to appreciate about his performance in this famous Scorsese picture about the Irish culture war in the Big Apple at the dawn of the Civil War. Neeson plays DiCaprio’s father’s character in a yet another compelling supporting role that fits his patriarchal personality. 

8. Michael Collins (1996)

8. Michael Collins
132m
Genre
War, Drama, Thriller, History
Stars
Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Stephen Rea
Directed by
Neil Jordan
Watch on Amazon

There’s nothing that gets the adrenaline pumping quite like a good old historical drama about the fight for independence. Neeson stars as the real-life title character who sacrificed everything he had to bring Ireland a chance at freedom from Britain in the early decades of the 20th century. This was a great follow-up for Neeson after his performance in Schindler’s List, and the role clearly was influenced by that film. 

7. The Grey (2012)

7. The Grey
117m
Genre
Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure
Stars
Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Directed by
Joe Carnahan
Watch on Amazon

Think of The Grey as Liam Neeson’s version of The Revenant, only with a lot more action and excitement. The film pits man against nature as Neeson’s group of mortals is trapped in the snow and freezing conditions that only wild animals usually survive. Shooting, blood, and the star’s signature machismo feature strong here.

6. Silence (2016)

6. Silence
161m
Genre
Drama, History
Stars
Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson
Directed by
Martin Scorsese
Watch on Amazon

Director Martin Scorsese has always been fascinated by religion and the effects of belief systems on humanity. This historical drama puts Liam Neeson in hiding as a devout Catholic priest in need of rescue in 1600s Edo Japan, a place and time period not kind to Christians. Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield play the ministers who adventure through the foreign land to find Neeson. The movie manages to make it believable that someone as powerful as Neeson would be the one under siege. 

5. Batman Begins (2005)

5. Batman Begins
140m
Genre
Action, Crime, Drama
Stars
Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson
Directed by
Christopher Nolan
Watch on max

Christopher Nolan’s historic take on Batman got off to a sterling start on the backs of Christan Bale and Liam Neeson. Bale plays the Dark Knight with a sophisticated presence that helped back up Nolan’s direction for the comic book icon. Neeson got to flash his antagonistic acting with a chilling turn as supervillain Ra’s al Ghul.

Fans don’t know Ghul’s exact motivations until he fights Batman head-on at the climax of the film. After appearing in Star Wars, this was the second huge franchise appearance for the Irishman to build his name. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in later films overshadowed Neeson’s great work here, unfortunately.

4. Taken (2008)

4. Taken
94m
Genre
Action, Thriller
Stars
Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser
Directed by
Pierre Morel
Watch on Hulu

Taken is Liam Neeson’s action-genre Mona Lisa. Neeson plays a washed-up assassin who uses both heart and skill to unearth his daughter’s location when she is kidnapped. Many of the defining traits in action movies in the early 2010s were taken (excuse the pun) from Taken. Neeson’s physicality, voice, and aura combine to make the film an enduring classic that spawned a variety of uneven sequels.

If you don’t agree with this listing, Neeson will find you, and he will kill you.

Taken- I will find you and I will kill you (HD)

3. Kinsey (2004)

3. Kinsey
118m
Genre
Drama
Stars
Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell
Directed by
Bill Condon
Watch on Amazon

Grossing only a little over $10 million at the box office, Kinsey might not be on even the most dedicated Neeson fan’s radar. Ignoring this drama film about a sex researcher (Neeson) who learns about himself and the human race through his fascination with intimacy would be a real shame for movie nerds. Laura Linney of Ozark gives an award-worthy supporting turn.

2. Widows (2018)

2. Widows
129m
Genre
Crime, Thriller
Stars
Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki
Directed by
Steve McQueen
Watch on Amazon

Even after years of being the superstar of action films, Neeson slips right back into a supporting role in one of the best heist movies of the decade. Widows shows the dirty aftermath for a group of women who fight back against the opposition their husbands created for them. Viola Davis, Carrie Coon, and Robert Duvall all combine their talents with Neeson to thrill audiences with a unique take on the mob movie category.

1. Schindler's List (1993)

1. Schindler's List
195m
Genre
Drama, History, War
Stars
Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes
Directed by
Steven Spielberg
Watch on Amazon

Schindler’s List is a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic masterpiece that helps bring awareness to one of history’s most humane figures. Liam Neeson plays Oskar Schindler, a factory owner who used his business as a front to keep Jewish workers from the evil results of the Holocaust.

Steven Spielberg gets the most credit for the ideas and execution of this biopic. Still, Neeson’s understated depiction of Schindler should be what represents his acting skills the most when his career comes to a close. He didn’t bring home the Academy Award for the film, but it would be difficult to say anyone was better in a role in 1993.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Shawn Laib
Shawn Laib is a freelance writer with publications such as Den of Geek, Quote.com, Edge Media Network, diaTribe, SUPERJUMP…
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