Liam Neeson has enjoyed a versatile career during which he has collaborated with some of the most prominent filmmakers of our time, ranging from Steven Spielberg to Martin Scorsese. In addition to critically acclaimed gems like Schindler’s List, Neeson has entered the mainstream consciousness by appearing in popular projects like Star Wars and hilariously becoming a meme due to his role in Taken.
Neeson’s latest project is called The Marksman. It’s an action thriller that stars the actor as a former Marine thrust into the middle of conflict once again when he encounters a young boy trying to escape the ruthless Mexican cartel. Although critics panned the film, Neeson’s gritty performance was applauded.
In an interview, Neeson said: “I like the fact that he’s a hurt individual. He served his country in Vietnam; he was a marine. He’s about to lose his little ranch, his cattle and stuff; he’s lost his wife tragically. So, he’s hardened himself. Then he meets this kid that’s from a different culture entirely, and he ends up – spoiler alert – trying to help this young boy. I think it opens him up to the fact that no man is an island.”
He also talked about his initial attraction to the project, claiming that there’s a lot in there: “I think the draw will be all of those elements of different genres that you mentioned. It’s certainly a road movie, and certainly an action film. It’s a very human film, I think, with a lot of heart. And it’s just a good story. It’s just a really good story. It’s got a lot of heart.”
During a separate interview, Neeson was asked about his favourite film of all time. After a moment of consideration, the actor cited William Wyler’s 1959 religious epic Ben-Hur as the greatest cinematic masterpiece he had ever seen, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since Wyler’s work is acknowledged to be vastly influential next generation of American filmmaking.
Ben-Hur isn’t just remembered for its complex subject matter and its technical innovations, most notably in the quality of the production and the pioneering cinematography. Hungarian-American filmmaker Andrew Marton played a major role in directing some of the most important scenes in the film, but he was only credited as a second-uni director.
Marton said: “I have been asked how the staging and directing of the Ben-Hur chariot race differ from those of the exodus from Dunkirk in Mrs. Miniver and the mountain battle scenes in A Farewell to Arms. It is in the number of separate shots. To my knowledge, never before in one motion picture were there so many short cuts in a sequence of 11 minutes duration. Some of the cuts are only a foot or a foot-and-a-half of film!”
“I was deeply gratified when William Wyler told me he thought the chariot race was one of the greatest cinematic achievements,” he added. “But I didn’t feel so good when I saw the screen credits. I share a credit-card with, I believe, five other people and am listed as one of three ‘second-unit directors’ — the minimum credit requirement stipulated by my contract with MGM.”