He is the ultimate cinematic mentor. He has trained medieval crusaders, Jedi knights and Batman. He has doled out advice to lovelorn children, sex-obsessed college students and slave traders. He has been Zeus. And this Friday, he will survive in the wilderness by literally punching nature in the face in "The Grey."
He is Liam Neeson.
He is a man with a particular set of skills. Skills he has acquired over a very long career, and here is everything I need to know about anything, courtesy of Liam:
"Now look, petal, faithful is my middle name."
Even stuck largely in the background of the oddest hybrid of "Star Wars" and "Camelot," conceived by the fevered brains of the early 80s, Liam stands as a pillar of strength and purity. His Kegan is a man who speaks softly, carries a huge axe and doesn't mess with women whose villages have burned down and whom he only brought home because he felt bad for them. Honest.
Rob Roy (1995)
"Honor is what no man can give you, and none can take away."
You can go ahead with your Baby Einstein videos and your pre-pre-school. I'm memorizing this speech and plan on delivering it every day to my children until they leave for college.
Les Miserables (1998)
"You'd be happier in Paris, where everyone, either by nature or experience, is dishonest."
Why do you think we kept a moneybelt strapped to our chest and kept our coat tightly buttoned during every Metro ride during our honeymoon? No sense in tempting fate, right? He may not be fair or right, but his advice won't fail you.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
"There's always a bigger fish."
Ah, yes. Humility. A very important Neesonian trait. Even if you are a Jedi or Batman, you need to understand your place in the larger scheme. There IS always a bigger fish. Sure, it's likely going to be played by Liam Neeson, too, but such is the mystery of the universe.
Gangs of New York (2002)
"Now, now, Bill. You swore this was a battle between warriors, not a bunch of miss nancies. So warriors is what I brought."
Essentially a tougher, more Irish way of delivering the old Boy Scout motto "always be prepared." If you invite Liam to a potluck dinner and tell him to bring a dessert, a dessert is what he'll bring. If you tell him to bring a bathing suit because it's a pool party, then a Speedo is what he'll bring. Liam listens to people and does his best to accommodate them, is what I'm saying.
Love Actually (2003)
"We need Kate. And we need Leo. And we need them now."
I don't care if you're a kid struggling with your first unrequited love, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, or Sam Mendes, you have to admit, that's sound advice. Kate and Leo can solve anything. Once "Titanic" comes through Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's NetFlix queue, you're going to see some big changes in the world.
"Love is the answer, isn't it? But, sex raises a lot of very interesting questions."
Every good with this one? Great. Moving on.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
"Be without fear in the face of your enemies. Be brave and upright that God may love thee. Speak the truth always, even if it leads to your death. Safeguard the helpless and do no wrong. That is your oath."
Casting Liam Neeson as a tough but honorable knight is almost too easy. In fact, we're not entirely sure Liam wasn't a knight. Not in a past life, in this one. If anyone could will himself to not age, it'd be Liam. Nature's whole "everything ages and dies" arrogance offends him, frankly.
Batman Begins (2005)
"Your training is nothing! Will is everything!"
That's right, even Bruce Wayne had to do a little studying under the tutelage of Master Neeson before he could be Batman. And the only thing more tremble-inducing to the callow than Jedi Master Neeson is Ninja Neeson.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
"I, too, want my family safe."
The fact that this line would fit as perfectly coming out of Liam's mouth in, say, "Taken" or "Unknown" as it does coming out of the mouth of a computer-animated lion tells you all you need to know about the power of Liam Lessons. They transcend species.
"You don't remember me? We spoke on the phone two days ago. I told you I would find you."
Never make a promise you can't keep. That goes for picking up friends at the airport, remembering to turn off the oven at a specific time or tracking down and killing the jerks who took your daughter. Although, to be fair, she's not entirely faultless here. She went to Paris by herself. Didn't she see "Les Miz"? Hello? Ignore Liam Lessons at your own peril.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
"You may not want to be a god, Perseus, but after feats like yours, men will worship you. Be good to them. Be better than we were. And if you insist on continuing this mundane human existence, I won't have you do it alone. You're the son of Zeus, after all!
In other words, there's such a thing as mundane human existence, and then there's the Way of the Neeson. One way leads to office jobs and mortgages and insurance seminars. The other way leads to glittery suits of armor, boss beards, and pet Krakens that you get to release in the most dramatic way possible. Make your choice.
The A-Team (2010)
"One step ahead of the game isn't a plan, kid. Two to three steps ahead, meeting an enemy's move before it's even made. That's a plan."
Now, a bit of a reality check. You've studied hard, followed his lead, and taken his lessons to heart. But the sad truth is - no matter how closely you follow the lessons of Liam, he will always be up to three steps ahead of you. The sooner you learn that, the better it will be for everyone.
The Grey (2012)
And, of course, when all else fails, strap some broken bottles to your fists and PUNCH WOLVES IN THE FACE.
Even though you can quote freely from the works of Liam Neeson, he can't. Because he's too busy BEING Liam Neeson. (The 2:58 mark)
"The Grey" opens in theaters everywhere Friday, January 27th.