Liam Neeson, Unknown, Poster

Despite how much I enjoyed the Euro-stomp romp that was Taken with Liam Neeson, I was fully prepared to pass on Unknown precisely because it looked like a lazy retread and a paycheck job for Neeson.

But a couple of articles have recently warmed my heart to the idea of possibly seeing Unknown this weekend and I’d like to share them with you now…

Read this article by Jeffery Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere. He’s taken Neeson to task repeatedly over the last few years for taking paycheck roles. Let’s face it – from a credibility standpoint, Taken, The A-Team and Clash of the Titans are MILES away from Schindler’s List and Rob Roy. So a little of that criticism is warranted.

But he’s actually kind of complimentary to Unknown. “I haven’t time to review it now,” says Wells. “But it’s not bad in a ‘somewhat better than meh’ sort of way. It’s nowhere near the level of the Bourne films, but it’s actually a touch more plausible than Taken, for what that’s worth.”

I know that sounds like faint praise. But coming from a curmudgeon like Wells – a critic who absolutely hated Taken and what it represented in Neeson’s career, that faint praise is saying something.

He then goes on to talk about the obsolescence of car chases as an action movie cliche. But that’s neither here nor there.

Another factor that might get me to see Unknown this weekend… sympathy.

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Neeson opened up about the death of his wife Natasha Richardson, who died in a skiing accident in March of 2009. Specifically he talks about burying the pain with work.

“”I think I survived by running away some. Running away to work,” said Neeson. He started filming Clash of the Titans just one month after his wife’s accident.

“‘Listen, I know how old I am and that I’m just a shoulder injury from losing roles like the one in Taken. So I stay with the training, I stay with the work. It’s easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work. That’s effective. But that’s the weird thing about grief. You can’t prepare for it. You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with. You make those plans, but they never work.’

‘It hits you in the middle of the night — well, it hits me in the middle of the night. I’m out walking. I’m feeling quite content. And it’s like suddenly, boom. It’s like you’ve just done that in your chest.’ Here Neeson reaches out and twists both hands in opposite directions, like he’s corkscrewing two ends of a soda can, reaches toward me so it’s clear: This is in his chest.”

Say what you will, but an emotional appeal like that hits me right between the eyes. It goes a long way toward justifying a lot of Neeson’s career choice of late.

So what about you? Any plans to see Unknown this weekend? Leave your comments below.