11 Actors Who Deserve a ‘Taken’-Style Action Comeback

By  · Published on February 20th, 2014

The new act in Liam Neeson’s career that began with 2008’s Taken has made it hard to remember that he was in stuff like Kinsey just a couple years before that. It turns out, Liam Neeson killing lots of people is exactly what the movie-going public needs this time of year, after a long winter and irritating award-season political sniping.

Now Kevin Costner is getting in on the act, with 3 Days To Kill, from EuropaCorp, the company behind Taken and such other notable titles as the Transporter series. It remains to be seen whether Costner’s effort will meet with Neeson-like glorious success or falter like EuropaCorp’s John Travolta (From Paris With Love) and Zoe Saldana (Colombiana) vehicles.

Until then, let’s consider 11 actors we’d like to see go the Neeson route:

Gabriel Byrne

An Irishman like Neeson, and one whose potential in the running around with guns and killing people sphere was only hinted at in Miller’s Crossing and The Usual Suspects. This one’s almost too easy, but genre film thrives on the obvious, as long as it’s done well. You could pretty much do a shot-for-shot remake of Taken and be just fine, although retitling it Seized might ease any confusion that might result.

Brendan Gleeson

There are Irishmen, and then there are Irishmen, and then there is Brendan Gleeson. Brendan Gleeson is one of the greatest gifts the cinema has ever given us, especially (but not exclusively) in The Guard, where Brendan Gleeson’s apparent tenuous grip on reality was a mere deceptive facade to hide his genius. Hell, just remake The Guard with more brutal violence and you’ve already got a EuropaCorp action picture.

Joan Allen

Bit of a change of pace, but anyone who remembers Paul W.S. Anderson’s Death Race remake remembers Joan Allen’s fierceness as the warden. Sure, the Bourne movies, she was competent, but that leather coat and those twenty-five-inch heels that she still managed to swagger in, that’s what’s up. Give Joan Allen a machine gun and let her pursue the unshaven baddies who kidnapped her niece through the increasingly blood-soaked streets of Dubrovnik and count your millions, Luc Besson.

Wesley Snipes

For a couple years there in the 90s, Wesley Snipes was basically making Europacorp movies (anyone remember that timeless classic Passenger 57?) so he’s already a safe bet, and you know movie executives love safe bets. He needs something to do now that he’s finally out of the joint for that tax evasion beef, and why not a metacinematic docudrama about a movie star who gets out of prison and then has to kill a whole bunch of bad guys who were the ones who framed him in the first place??? (Yeah, the Albanians stole his tax returns . . . or something.) Wesley Snipes IS “Released.”

Kevin Bacon

He can do better than The Following, and doing a EuropaCorp action movie would make it a lot easier to use Eastern European actors in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with all the villains he’d have to machine gun to death through the streets of Budapest. Also, Kevin Bacon is one of the most consistently underestimated actors of his generation; he makes a lot of bad movies but it’s mostly due to bad luck and encroaching age. That’s the beautiful future Taken created: mass murder your way through your fifties, actors!

Elisabeth Shue

Not the greatest actor in the world, but definitely easy on the eyes; note, the exact same thing could be said about Jason Statham before The Transporter, and look where he is now. This is why Elisabeth Shue should be EuropaCorp’s next hard-R action star. Remember Adventures in Babysitting? Think how much more awesome that would have been if Elisabeth Shue had had an MP5, a healthy supply of clips, and a couple walkie-talkie dialogues with the bad guys about having a particular set of skills. Not such a weird choice now, huh?

Colin Firth

Aside from an ability to wear bizarre sweaters with a certain panache and being the proto-Benedict Cumberbatch in terms of making straight white women lose their minds, Colin Firth has a well-developed sense of fun. And he also made the reputable version of this kind of movie anyway with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which would lead fans of disreputable cinema to believe he could handle himself. Colin Firth killing hundreds of people and jumping off helicopters into boats while things explode is a beautiful thing to contemplate. All the better if it’s also a sequel to A Single Man.

Angela Bassett

Should require no explanation, but explanation there shall be nonetheless: Strange Days except without her having to deal with Ralph Fiennes’ ridiculous not-being-in-love-with-her-from-the-start nonsense (which disqualified Ralph Fiennes from this list; actions, or inactions, in this case, have consequences). Waiting to Exhale except she walks away from Michael Beach’s burning car in slow-motion and it explodes as she puts on sunglasses and hops into a waiting BMW driven by Lela Rochon. These are mere hints of what a whole movie about Angela Bassett killing foreign bad guys would attain, in terms of glory.

Russell Wong

In a slightly different category from everyone else on the list, as Russell Wong never got to have a first wave of stardom, in spite of being a handsome fellow who could do martial arts and even sort of act. The closest he came was probably doing the voice for True Crime: Streets of LA a million years ago, and getting killed by Jet Li in Romeo Must Die around the same time. What could it hurt? Aside from the scores of Chechen separatists who’d have to get eviscerated on the streets of Prague, that is.

Gina Gershon

Her turn as Donatella Versace in that amazing Lifetime movie last year only served as a reminder that Gina Gershon has been out of the public eye for too long. Of course, any period of time longer than a day would be too long out of the public eye for the glorious Gina Gershon, so the thing to do, clearly, is set her against an army of rogue ex-KGB mercenaries who won’t realize until the helicopter blows up that they messed with the wrong woman. She has, after all, worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Woo, and Paul Verhoeven over the years, ultraviolence should come quite easily to Dame Gina.

Kurt Russell

This almost isn’t even fair to the bad guys, but the true injustice is that Kurt Russell isn’t making three movies a year where he kills everyone. What more does he have to do? The man was Snake Plissken. R.J. MacReady. Jack Burton. Gabriel Cash. The fact that Quentin Tarantino even had to remind everyone what was up by casting him as Stuntman Mike was an outrage. Rectify this injustice now. Get Kurt Russell a trunk full of guns, some hazily-defined yet poorly groomed bad guys who know how to take a bullet, and roll camera.

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Columnist, Film School Rejects. Host, Minor Bowes podcast. Ce n’est pas grave, y’all