Over the weekend, “Cold Pursuit” starring Liam Neeson was released. It’s a crime thriller set at a tourist destination in the Rocky Mountains. Based on a Norwegian film (“In Order Of Disappearance”), Neeson plays a snowplow driver whose son is killed by a drug cartel. The tragedy sends his character on a violent revenge spree familiar to fans.
This fall, Robert Redford starred in the Oscar-bait film “The Old Man and The Gun,” a title Neeson could apply to describe his latter career stage. Well into his 60s, the actor has become bankable as a lead in gun-laden action thrillers.
“Cold Pursuit” differs from recent Neeson efforts in that this one is focused on a middle-aged man using guns in the snow. This is a departure from his “Taken” series, a trilogy of films about a middle-aged man using guns across Europe. It is also distanced from “Run All Night” (middle-aged hit man with a gun) and “A Walk Among The Tombstones” (middle-aged private detective with a gun) and is unlike “Commuter” (middle-aged man with a gun on a train) and “Non-Stop” (middle-aged man with a gun on a plane), and nothing at all like “Unknown” (middle aged man with amnesia…and a gun).
“Cold Pursuit” is something of a satire, in many ways spoofing the very films Neeson has attached himself to in recent years. Since his hit “Taken,” the actor has churned out almost a dozen titles built upon a similar framework. Those center on a more than capable older character who is always more than comfortable employing firearms to dispense his form of justice.
Caliber-ating Who Is Permitted Guns
Ahead of the release of “Cold Pursuit,” Liam Neeson created stomach issues for producers when during an interview he made some racially charged comments that sent social media abuzz. Amazingly, this is not the first time the actor said things that make you question his character. Liam is not so adroit at sidestepping controversial landmines during interviews.
In the autumn of 2014, Neeson was on the press tour for “A Walk Among The Tombstones” when he made some rather daft comments. “I am totally for gun control in the U.S.,” he said to The Independent. This is a rather curious position to take, considering the millions he was pocketing for brandishing weapons on screen. But he proved he was not a deep thinker on the subject. “Every day we’re seeing some kid running rampant in a school,” the actor reported. Every day, that is happening. School shootings are a daily occurrence in America, says the Irish-born thespian.
If one wants to question the wisdom behind an actor demonizing guns while promoting a gun-intensive action film, it’s valid to do so. Unable to see this rampant contradiction in his comments, Neeson repeated this folly the next year, again while promoting one of his gun-porn ventures. While stumping for “Taken 3” Liam repeated his gun stance, but in an even more obtuse fashion.
“There’s too many [expletive] guns out there. Especially in America. I think the population is like, 320 million? There’s over 300 million guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it’s a [expletive] disgrace.” He made these comments in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks that had just taken place. Neeson looks at a tragedy that played out in Paris, and he targeted the United States as a result?
Deconstructing his outrage further, he was referencing the acts of Islamic terrorists. Neeson wants to attack the wisdom of our Second Amendment, but justifies his stance by citing the actions of a group that wants to eliminate that very Constitution. The intellectual blindspot required to miss that detail becomes a full optical eclipse when you consider our right to defend ourselves protects us from that very mindset.
This is too deep of a concept for the action star. Just swallow his lecture on why guns are bad, while he implores you to attend a screening of his energetically pro-gun movie.
Only Those Who Despise Guns May Use Guns?
We saw a similar obliviousness last fall with the release of the rebooted horror classic “Halloween,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis. The actress has been outspoken about her opposition to our nation’s gun rights. She has every right to express that position. But to then star in a film where her character fends off evil forces by using guns to protect herself and others seems a bit more than a departure.
This idea that you and I should surrender our rights to use a gun in a sensible and legal manner, while these millionaire luminaries get to use guns in a sensible and legal manner, is undiluted elitism. See, they understand the vile nature of guns, so when they use them for personal gain it is perfectly understandable.
In a classic case of “biting the hand,” Neeson’s comments were not without backlash. After his ill-thought-out comments on the “Taken 3” press tour, one gun manufacturer took a stand. Para USA provided the weapons to the set of the movie, but following Liam’s anti-Second Amendment comments, the company pulled its endorsement (and all future work). The company released an official statement:
We will no longer provide firearms for use in films starring Liam Neeson and ask that our friends and partners in Hollywood refrain from associating our brand and products with his projects. Further, we encourage our partners and friends in the firearms industry to do the same.
These activist celebrities always fail to see that the biggest arguments against our weapons are the very same concepts their industry — and careers — relies upon. Look at how the National Rifle Association (NRA) is commonly demonized: According to detractors, they fetishize guns, promote guns for a profit, and rely on a culture of violence to sell their product. Now, replace “NRA” in those phrases with “Hollywood.” There is zero change in accuracy or impact.
Neeson has been confronted with his problematic contradiction. After saying things, such as “Everybody says it’s in the Constitution. I think the Founding Fathers would be turning in their graves,” once he’s challenged on the fact that he uses guns in his movies, his commentary becomes shaky. “You can slap me in the face with that and say I’m a liar. My defense is that it’s very much cartoon violence. That’s what I see it as.”
Except he sees it incorrectly. The overwhelming majority of gun owners will tell you they desire to keep their right to protect themselves, their families, and property from the incursion of illegal and violent entities. That is the exact same base concept for Neeson’s movies. He is using his weapon to combat evil. Gun owners want only the same, but for some reason they are in the wrong suddenly.
Gun Owners Want The Same Awesome Protection
In their minds, celebrity activists understand things the rest of us do not, and this self-described revelatory condition permits them to use guns for personal gain. Somehow this lets them elude the obvious contradiction, and responsibility. It is perfectly fine for them to promote gun use, and to profit immensely from the use of guns. It is perfectly wrong for any of us to buy into the very same message they are selling, however.
This summer, Neeson stars in “Men In Black International,” in which he will not be seen using a firearm on screen. His character will be able to combat other-worldly entities because he will have access to a reverberating carbonizer, with mutate capacity.
For once, his weapon will in fact be cartoonish, and not at all like real life. And for once he will not be appearing on a promotional poster with a gun prominently displayed in his gun-hating hands.