This weekend saw a brutal showdown between Liam Neeson, the current god of action cinema, and Jesus Christ, the current god of millions of human beings. Since the box office is a "two may enter, but only one may leave" type showdown, the victory ultimately went to Mr. Neeson and 'Non-Stop,' which edged out the son of God and his movie, uh, 'Son of God' to win the weekend.
Since its inception, movies have starred the beautiful people. Young people. The kind of people you simply wouldn't see on every street corner. It's such a Hollywood cliche to discuss the film industry chewing up young stars and spitting them back out once they start to get up there in years, but it's only a cliche because it's happened enough times to take on truth.
But, there have been times in cinematic history where youth and beauty have taken a backseat to age age and experience. Every so often, we stop caring about traditional movie stars and start embracing something the folks who look like they've taken a beating. Sometimes, the older folks start to take over the spotlight and right now, we're living in the age of the Old Man Action Hero.
But why now?
The opening shot of 'Non-Stop' has Liam Neeson pouring whiskey in a coffee cup and stirring it with a toothbrush. He then reaches out to a photo of a young girl to stroke it with his fingertips. After this the phone rings and the caller ID reads 555. In other words, three of the biggest movie cliches, all in about sixty seconds.
Just when you thought Liam Neeson's late-career resurrection as a gruff 'n growling action hero may be ready for a break, the first 'Non-Stop' trailer shows up, proving that the man who once played Oskar Schindler has officially transformed into the closest thing the 21st century has to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not that we'll complain too much -- Neeson is pretty good at making preposterous action movies work and this one looks like another entertaining entry in the "Liam Neeson Kills Everyone" sub-genre.