In my time so far on the planet I've uncovered two key coping mechanisms for dealing with life's topsy-turvy twists and turns: strong drink and Liam Neeson, preferably in combination. There's a steadiness and predictability to Liam Neeson's oeuvre that's not unlike a favorite bottle of whiskey. If I devote a few hours to it, I know I'll wind up feeling warm and fuzzy and ever so slightly brain-dead.
So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I heard that a new Liam Neeson film was coming out this month (February releases being the best of the year as far as I'm concerned). I've spent all week preparing for it by watching a minimum of three of his films per night, accompanied by the aforementioned bottle of whiskey (a Tullamore D.E.W. Phoenix Irish Whiskey, if you must know) and I have made several key observations.
The most important thing about Liam Neeson movies is the deadlines. Almost every Neeson film contains two. The first is a prescribed timeframe thrust upon Liam by the bad guys. It typically calls for him to pull off the impossible in order to save himself and/or others from some terrible fate. For instance, in the newest film, Non-Stop (opening Feb. 28th), Neeson plays an air marshal on board a transatlantic flight that has been hijacked by villains who are threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless their demands for a $150 million ransom are met. Spoiler alert: The bad guys ain't gettin' a dime. Not if Liam Neeson's signature throat chops have anything to say about it, and (spoiler alert #2) they totally do!
The second deadline is the cutoff point Neeson gives his antagonists to either surrender or have their asses seriously effed-up. Like when he says, "I'm going to start beating the shit out of you in the next five seconds" in The Grey. You can guess what happens five seconds later.
The other important aspect of Liam Neeson movies is their consistency. While there are subtle variations from film to film, for the most part you have a pretty good idea going in of what you're going to get. Of course, there's the occasional treacly piece of crap like Love Actually, where not only are there no deadlines, but Neeson inexplicably plays a giant wuss you want to smack in the face the whole time. But for every one of those aberrations there are 10 Takens, in which Liam's a total friggin' awesome badass who throat-chops the shit out of anyone everyone who gets in his grill. Want proof?
I'm not exaggerating either. There are literally 10 Takens -- the two that have already been released, the one they're shooting now, the six more in various stages of pre-production and the one I'm writing, where the climactic scene revolves around Liam Neeson tracking down a boozed-up writer because he found out the guy is writing a terrible screenplay for Taken 11. Ironically, during the scene, Michael Collins is playing on a TV in the background and it looks like the writer has been playing some sort of sad, solo drinking game.
I would like to share the details of this game with you now. To play, you will need a case of beer, a ridiculous amount of whiskey, a Netflix account and friends. On no account should you play this game alone. Liam Neeson has a very particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career. And if you play this game alone he will hunt you down... and get completely schnockered with you. And there's nothing more dangerous than a drunk Liam Neeson in your house. Okay, then, let's get to it...
The Liam Neeson Drinking Game
1. Every time Liam Neeson fixes someone with a flinty glare, take a shot of Drambuie.
2. Every time Liam Neeson fixes someone with a steely glare, take a shot of Johnnie Walker Black.
3. Every time Liam Neeson fixes someone with a steely, flinty glare, slam a Rusty Nail, then turn to the person next to you and say "I'm going to start beating the shit out of you in the next five seconds."
4. If the person next to you threatens to start beating the shit out of you in the next five seconds, the only way to avoid said beating is to give the full name of a character Neeson has played besides Zeus and Oskar Schindler. Be forewarned, this is perhaps the most difficult challenge in the entire game, as almost everyone is under the impression that with the exception of Love Actually, Liam Neeson has simply been playing himself for the past 35 years. If you do miraculously manage to recall another Neeson character name, however, the person who threatened to beat you must drink two more Rusty Nails. By the way, did you know Neeson's character in Taken is named Bryan? Not Slade or Jake or Greer or Rex. Bryan. With a Y, no less. I think they should have gone with Chad...
5. Every time Liam Neeson points out that he has "a particular set of skills," everyone in the game in turn has three seconds or less to name one of those skills.
Acceptable answers include but are not limited to glaring (both flintily and steelily), the ability to remain preternaturally calm in situations that would cause 99.9 percent of the human population to shit themselves, cat-like reflexes, throat-chopping, extreme tallness, horse testicles, an uncanny knack for obtaining cell phones with unlimited battery life, Narnia breath, George Lucas's home phone number, the ultimate panty-dropper voice, telepathy and the ability to not let steaming piles of crap like Battleship tarnish his career. First person to draw a blank must drink a Rob Roy. (And don't forget that name, by the way. It could come handy at some point during the game)
6. For every minute Liam Neeson is onscreen in Battleship, chug a beer. Assuming an average tolerance for alcohol, you are all likely to pass out within the first 15 minutes of the movie. If this happens, everybody wins.
7. Every time you catch a hint of Liam's Irish brogue in Schindler's List, take a shot of Jameson and shout "Top o' the mornin' to ya, Hitler!"
Finally, every time Liam Neeson makes you laugh hysterically, take a shot of Croizet Cuvée Léonie cognac (the most expensive in the world at $157,000 per bottle). It may seem steep, but I believe a special occasion deserves something special. And to anyone that thinks Liam Neeson doesn't have a knack for the comedic arts, I believe this should change your mind.
May the Neesons be with you.
by Dan Dunn
Follow Dan on Twitter @TheImbiber
Read more Imbiber columns on Food Republic: