Liam Neeson has a particular set of skills that he’s been showing off as the unlikely movie star of action thrillers since 2008’s Taken. Here’s how you can stream all of Neeson’s most popular action hero roles.
Update, 9/19/22: We’ve reviewed our guide and replaced all links that had stopped working.
The Taken series
When Neeson was cast as former CIA agent and Green Beret Bryan Mills, it seemed like an odd choice. But he proved to be perfect for the role of the ruthless man who will stop at nothing to rescue his teenage daughter from kidnappers. Bryan’s adventures in the two Taken sequels are less effective, but the trilogy has become a defining moment in Neeson’s career.
Neeson’s first collaboration with director Joe Carnahan is this adaptation of the 1980s action series, with Neeson as Hannibal Smith, the leader of a covert team of mercenaries taking on jobs that no one else will touch.
The team’s origin story is more of an ensemble piece than other Neeson action movies, with Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Sharlto Copley as the other team members, but it’s still driven by Neeson’s lead performance.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra has proven to be the most adept at deploying Neeson’s talents in action movies, starting with this thriller starring Neeson as a doctor in Berlin for a conference, who wakes up after an attack to discover that his identity seems to have been erased. This apparently ordinary man takes on terrorists and killers in an effort to discover who he really is and why his life has been taken away from him.
Neeson teamed up with Carnahan again for a movie promoted with the indelible image of Neeson, his fists covered in broken glass, preparing to fight a pack of wolves. But The Grey is more of a psychological thriller, about a group of oil workers attempting to survive in the wilderness following a plane crash. The wolf-fighting, as awesome as it looks, is merely an added bonus.
The second Neeson/Collet-Serra movie stars Neeson as an air marshal attempting to stop a terrorist attack aboard a flight from New York City to London, even while he himself is being framed as the criminal mastermind. It’s a self-contained thriller in the vein of Speed or Die Hard, with Neeson as a self-destructive alcoholic hoping for redemption.
A Walk Among the Tombstones
Writer/director Scott Frank adapts Lawrence Block’s novel about a former New York City police detective (Neeson) hired to find a pair of kidnappers who target drug dealers and their family members. It’s a more contemplative movie than some of Neeson’s other thrillers, with Frank taking a character-driven approach to the gritty crime story.
Run All Night
Neeson and Collet-Serra once again take on the story of a troubled man hoping for redemption—in this case, a mob enforcer nicknamed “The Gravedigger.” The main character tries to protect his boxing coach son (Joel Kinnaman) from the criminal organization that employs him. It allows Neeson to play a slightly less morally upstanding character while still ultimately doing the right thing.
Neeson and Collet-Serra’s fourth movie together casts Neeson as a seemingly mild-mannered insurance agent who is, of course, an ex-cop. The character finds himself threatened and extorted by mysterious criminals while on his daily train commute home to the suburbs from New York City. He has to figure out who’s behind the conspiracy while clearing himself of any wrongdoing (and keeping the other passengers on the moving train safe).
This remake of a Norwegian movie (directed by the same filmmaker, Hans Petter Moland) takes a more playful approach to the Neeson thriller formula, finding dark humor in the idea of a grizzled old man out for vengeance. Neeson plays a beloved ski-town snowplow driver who goes down a dangerous path, taking revenge on the members of a drug gang he holds responsible for the death of his son.
Even as a prolific bank robber, Neeson still projects moral authority. The title character of this thriller just wants to turn himself in, give back the money he stole, and serve his time, all so he can be with the woman he loves (Kate Walsh). Some corrupt federal agents have other plans, though, so the honest thief has to take down the dishonest cops to clear his name (and save his relationship).
Neeson takes on a role reminiscent of late-period Clint Eastwood as an Arizona rancher and military veteran who takes an undocumented Mexican immigrant under his wing. Neeson’s Jim Hanson faces off against cartel enforcers and Border Patrol agents as he attempts to bring the young boy safely to his family in Chicago. The gruff, conservative patriot eventually bonds with the sullen kid.
The Ice Road
This Netflix original movie stars Neeson as a brave but short-tempered trucker transporting rescue equipment across treacherous frozen terrain to a collapsed mine. It’s bad enough that Neeson’s Mike McCann and his fellow drivers have to make it across thinning ice, without having to also deal with sabotage from nefarious corporate executives who’d rather let the trapped miners die.
The Ice Road is streaming on ($9.99+ per month).
Neeson reunites with Honest Thief director Mark Williams for this conspiracy thriller. Travis Block (Neeson) is an unofficial “fixer” for the FBI who discovers that his latest assignment is connected to a secret program to assassinate civilian activists. He turns on his handlers, joining forces with a journalist (Emmy Raver-Lampman) to expose the truth, even if he has to sacrifice everything he’s worked for.
In this remake of a Belgian film, Neeson plays an aging assassin whose memory is starting to fail him. Guy Pearce commands equal screen time as the FBI agent on the assassin’s trail after he defies orders to kill a child. The two men pursue the same goal of bringing down a ring of powerful, connected abusers, even though they are working on opposite sides of the law.