Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: liam neeson

“Retribution” Is Yet Another Liam Neeson Action Movie (With A Lot Less Action)

Liam Neeson (“Taken”) has made another action movie (at the age of 71) but there isn’t much action required of him, other than driving a car and peering into the side mirror a lot.

The movie is a remake (the third) of the Dani de la Torreia film “El Desopascido” (2015). It is a bit of a “Speed” rip-off, in that businessman Matt Turner is trapped in his car, with his two children, by an unknown assailant who contacts him via cell phone and warns him that, if he or the kids try to get out of the car or he doesn’t drive as instructed, the vehicle will blow up.

There is a bomb planted beneath the seats and if Neeson or his son or daughter get out of the car, the change in pressure will automatically detonate the hidden bomb. To prove that he isn’t fooling around, the anonymous criminal blows up a car with a hapless couple inside, so that Neeson can realize he is serious. It also turns out that it is so that Neeson’s car is seen by the authorities in the vicinity where the first explosion occurs and they will begin targeting and chasing him, assuming he is to blame for all the carnage.

From there on, it is pretty much Liam Neeson driving around and doing whatever the anonymous voice on the phone tells him to do, even after both of his car doors have been removed. (A passerby tells the hapless driver this, speaking in German.) I was somewhat confused by the melange of languages. It appears that Liam and family are full-time residents of Germany (Berlin, specifically) but they don’t seem to speak the language. Yet they seem to understand televsion in the native tongue and there is no real explanation of why none of the Turner clan is bi-lingual. (Weird).

Neeson is not having a good day, as he learns during the ordeal that his wife (Embeth Davidtz, with whom Neeson worked in “Schindler’s List”) is having a meeting with a divorce attorney. Plus, his two children are mouthy and pretty annoying, especially early on. Lilly Aspell, who played the young “Wonder Woman” in that film (2017), plays his daughter, Emily Turner, and Jack Champion (“Avatar: The Way of Water,” 2022) portrays the teen-aged Zach Turner.They are typical in being addicted to their cell phones, but their hostile reactions to most requests (“Get in the car.” “Give me your cell phone.”) make them less-than-likeable.

At one point I turned to my spouse and said, “At what point did Matt lose control of his children.” It was not a remark without  foundation. We are given only the slightest of clues about why Heather Turner (Matt’s wife) might be talking to a divorce attorney, but one of the main reasons seems to be that he is a workaholic and frequently leaves her holding the parenting bag, even if he was alerted in advance that he needed to pitch in that day.. At one point, the script has Liam Neeson say, “I’ve had better days,” which caused me to laugh out loud.

I also thought some of the other scripted lines were excessively formulaic and bore little relationship to what was happening onscreen. One example:  “You don’t run from a challenge. You take it on.” [Well, maybe not if the challenge is keeping your car from blowing up while your two children are trapped inside  with you.]

There was a scene where we learn that there is no cell phone signal in a large Berlin  tunnel. I thought this meant that the bomb could not, then, be triggered. Our discussion of this plot point did give some credibility to the thought that removing Liam Neeson’s body weight from the driver’s side of the Mercedes would cause the vehicle to explode because of the “pressure plate” mentioned early on.

I smiled when the Black investigator, played by Noma Dumazweme, told the hassled businessman that the police had interrupted the cell service. She tells him that it is the first time that cell phone service was interrupted to Berlin since 1945. The only problem with that factoid is that there were no cell phones at all in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, or the 1970s. It is true that the cell phone was invented in 1973, but it was not readily available to the public until 1983. Liam’s tearing out of the signal-less underground highway tunnel with bezillion Polizei arrayed in front of him, while telling the policewoman that HE would find the culprit if they (the police) could not (and shouting “Tell your men to stand down” which she had no time at all to do)  was batshit crazy.

I should mention the presence of Matthew Modine as Liam Neeson’s business partner in an investment firm. Initially, I felt this fine actor (“Full Metal Jacket” 1987) was being totally under-utilized, as he appeared only in cell phone conversations sent to Neeson’s car that were business-related. As the plot progressed, his role increased. I was happy to see that he got more screentime. (I also noticed that Matthew Modinne’s teeth are far better than Liam Neeson’s).

Here was another random formulaic line, as scripted by Alberto Marina and Christopher Salmanpour:  “This was all inevitable.” Really?

Nothing that happened seemed “inevitable.” The chase scenes where Liam successfully navigates literally multitudes of police cars that are arrayed to stop him were implausible in the extreme. There have been movies with good car chase scenes (“Bullitt,” “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “The French Connection”) but this was not one of them.

This movie was directed by  Nimrod Antal, who was previously involved in directing “Machete” and “Predators.” At some point, he must have known that even audiences that have been suspending belief to watch Liam Neeson go to great lengths to defend or rescue his family members for years in mediocre movies were going to find Neeson’s driving through road blocks that must have been designed by a mentally deficient police sergeant would not play successfully in Peoria (or anywhere else). It will, however, soon be streaming on a streaming service near you. Possibly right now on YouTube.

I actually enjoyed the “twist” at the end, for several reasons. The acting was acceptable, even if the script did not hold water. There were some impressive explosions at various points. Many stunt people got work in the streets of Berlin. (My son works for a company headquartered in Berlin, so I enjoyed the tour of the city.)

The thing that gave me pause as I watched what could well be one of Liam Neeson’s last outings as an action hero was the realization that we’ve lost two great ones in this genre this year: Bruce Willis and, potentially, Liam Neeson. I am not encouraged that the new crop of action movie performers is up to snuff, especially since a trailer ran for another “Expendables” film with Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham and 50 Cent. (50 Cent, in particular, was nearly impossible to understand.)

Music for “Retribution” by Harry Gregson-Williams

Cinematography by Flavrio Martinez Labiano.

“Happy-Go-Lucky” Is Worth A Look

My apologies to all who thought—as I did—that Weekly in the title Weekly Wilson meant that I would not go more than a week without posting.

I have excuses.

Mostly, the excuses involve my always-rocky relationship with computers.

The hinge on my laptop somehow came undone. So, no laptop to write my post on and most of the graphics I’d need are within said laptop. Computer Revolutions scavenged a new top from an old computer and ordered and installed a new hinge. They did this between Friday and Tuesday, but I still was without a computer recently.

In the meantime, I tried to go downstairs and use my desk top.

Can’t make it type even a letter to the sister for her birthday. Not sure why. Could be “updates.” Could be that I owe money for something that I don’t know about. After all, we were gone from November through May, so various “updates” had to be installed.

Now that I’m (more-or-less) back, I’d like to recommend some viewing, including “Start Up,” which features Martin Freeman and Ron Perlman in a tale from Miami about the Internet, which also features Academy-Award winning actress Mira Sorvino, whom you seldom see onscreen. (Her career a Harvey Weinstein casualty, I believe).

We started watching “The Ice Road” last night, the #1 rental on Netflix with Liam Neeson. When we got to the point where both trucks were on their sides, I asked how they were going to get them both upright again. Still don’t know, as the film quit loading/running.

Last, but not least, Sally Hawkins (the deaf mute girl in “The Shape of Water”) and “Terry” (from “Ray Donovan,” as portrayed by Eddie Marsan) appeared on my late-night television viewing in “Happy-Go-Lucky” and I heartily recommend this film if you are in the market for an upbeat film (from 2008) that has a lot to say about optimism in the face of life’s normal setbacks. (Preview above).

Liam Neeson Talks About Wife’s Tragic Death

Irish-born actor Liam Neeson (movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800019540) has not spoken out in detail about the tragic death of wife Natasha Richardson’s on March 18, 2009. Natasha had been skiing in a remote area of Quebec (Neeson was filming in Toronto) when she fell and hit her head. Immediately after the fall, she seemed fine.

Three hours later, she complained of headaches. Seven hours later, she was in critical condition and was airlifted to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Two days later, Natasha Richardson Neeson died  at the age of 45 (Liam is 58).

Neeson has not spoken about that tragic night.—until now.


In the March, 2011 “Esquire” magazine, Tom Chiarella interviewed Neeson (pp. 108-113).

The interview was supposed to have taken place over a year  earlier. Neeson canceled  as Chiarella was on his way to the restaurant. Neeson says, apologetically, that it was just too soon to talk about Richardson’s death , the events  too raw and fresh in his mind.


The night that Natasha died, Neeson says:  “I walked into the emergency–it’s like 70, 80 people, broken arms, black eyes, all that—and for the first time in years, nobody recognizes me. Not the nurses. The patients. No one. And I’ve come all this way (from Toronto where he was filming Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe,”)   (movies.yahoo.com/photos/red-carpet/gallery/2123/the) and they won’t let me see her.   I’m looking past them, starting to push—I’m like,’ F***! I know my wife’s back there some place’. I pull out a cell phone and a security guard comes up, starts saying, ‘Sorry, sir, you can’t use that in here,’ and I’m about to ask him if he knew me when he disappears to answer a phone call or something.

So I went outside. It’s freezing cold, and I thought, What am I gonna’ do? How am I going to ge past security? And I see 2 nurses, ladies, having a cigarette.  I walk up, and luckily one of them recognizes me.  And I’ll tell you, I was so f****** grateful—for the first time in I don’t know how long—to be recognized.  And this one, she says, ‘Go in that back door there.’ She points me to it. ‘Make a left.  She’s in a room there.’ So I get there just in time.  And all these young doctors, who look all of 18 years of age, they tell me the worst.  The worst.”


Liam Neeson went back to shooting “Chloe” after Natasha Richardson’s funeral. He says, “I just think I was still in a bit of shock.  But it’s kind of a no-brainer to go back to work.  It’s a wee bit of a blur, but I know the tragedy hadn’t just really smacked me yet.” (p. 113) Neeson also said, in a “New York Times” article  (Monsters and Critics.com, “Liam Neeson Talks of Wife’s Final Moments”), “I think I survived by running away. Running away to work.”

Neeson is still surviving by “running away to work.”  Called “one of the most compelling actors of the late 20th century” (Sunday, February 20, 2011 New York Times”), Neeson has a new movie, “Unknown,” where he plays Dr. Martin Harris, whose life is co-opted by another. (news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110217/ap_3n_ot/us_film_review_unknown).

He has a small role in this year’s “The Hangover, Part II,” which he credits to friend Bradley Cooper He replaced Mel Gibson in a cameo role as a character called Tattoo. (in.news.yahoo.com/iam-neeson-thankful-pal-bradley). In 2011, there is also “Last Stand” (www.obsessedwithfilm.com/movie-news/liam-neeson-is-an).

When 2012 rolls around, Neeson is set to play a role in “Battleship” (www.thelifefiles.com), “The Grey” (www.totalfilm.com/news/liamneeson-starring-in-thegrey). He recently made a guest appearance on “The Big C” with Laura Linney as “the bee man” (Neeson and Linney co-starred on Broadway in a remake of “The Crucible”) and he will be in “Wrath of the Titans,” as well,  reprising  his role as Zeus in the sequel to 2010’s “Clash of the Titans,” a remake of the 1981 film. (movies.yahoo.com/news/usmovies.thehollywoodreporter.com).


Back on May 9 of 2010 when excerpts from Retta Blaney’s book “Working on the Inside” (Rowman & Littlefield publishers) were printed on www.beliefnet.com, Neeson talked about his life as an actor, a life crossroads, his faith, and how he realized that acting is a form of prayer (“Acting is a Form of Prayer, May 9, 2010, Retta Blaney for www.beliefnet.com).

Said Neeson, “I found out in the jungles of South America (while filming “The Mission” with Robert DeNiro in 1986) that Stanislavsky (the originator of the ‘Method’ school of acting) had based his technique on the Spiritual Exercises (of Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola.  It was a real revelation to me, and it brought 2 big parts of my life together.  The Irish Catholic side was married to the life of an actor, and I found out that acting could be a form of prayer.  It helped me, knowing that.  It was like a little godsend message.”

Before that, said Neeson, “I was reasonably successful as an actor. I was 32 or 33 with a potential career ahead of me.  I had done some flim-flam movies, but I didn’t understand what being an actor meant any more.” He described his life at that crossroads, when he was still single, as “getting drunk at night and getting laid as much as I could.”


Neeson’s rise as an actor can be attributed to his stage work. He was appearing onstage in Dublin at the Abbey Theatre as Lennie Small in an adaptation of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” when Director John Boorman (“Deliverance”) saw him and offered him a part as Sir Gawaine in “Excalibur,” Neeson’s first movie break.( www.rottentomatoes.com/m/excalibur). Neeson moved to the United States in 1987 and is a naturalized citizen, which he announced on “Good Morning, America” on August 9, 2009. In a February 21, 2011 “People” Q&A now on the stands, Neeson said of his adopted homeland, “I love the people, the spirit and the landscape—the vastness of it.” (www.People.com).

Luck is always present in anyone’s life and/or career.  Steven Spielberg saw Neeson in Jodie Foster’s film “Nell” and offered him the career-making role of Oskar Shindler in his much-honored film “Schindler’s List.” (movies.yahoo.com/movie/contributor/1800019540/bio)


Once Neeson recognized that acting might be a prayerful thing, he said, he began to change. “I offer my performances as prayer for someone I’ve worked with as an actor or someone who has died.  The image that comes into my head as I walk to the stage, I offer that performance up for that person.”

Although he referred to himself as “a fallen-away Catholic” in the March, 2011 “Esquire” interview, he does acknowledge that he is raising his two sons (Micheal, 15, and Daniel, 14)  as Roman Catholics. In Retta Blaney’s book, Neeson said of faith, “I question more now. I don’t mean that it’s all hocum, but I’ve lost a simple faith.  I do still believe, but I like to encompass all religions now.  I believe we’re all paying homage to God.”

In that earlier interview—given before Natasha died— (from “Working on the Inside” by Retta Blaney, published by Rowman & Littlefield, excerpted on www.beliefnet.com on May 9, 2010), Neeson added, “Generally, I just give thanks for how lucky I am.  I’m healthy.  I have some money in the bank (the Neeson Millbrook, NY home was valued at close to $4 million dollars; he and Richardson purchased 16 more acres nearby in August of 2004) and I have a wonderful wife.”

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