Bullet Points: Next of Kin
My friend asked me the other day “when did Liam Neeson become such a badass?” My first thought was of Rob Roy or Darkman but then I remembered Next of Kin. Neeson bangs out about three revenge-filled movies a year now so these youngin’s today probably don’t remember when Liam was a serious actor and not going around sticking guns in everyone’s faces and doing commercials. In my mind there is room for both Neeson’s but if he was ever to bring one of his old characters out of retirement and make another film, I’m all for Briar Gates. Neeson owns this movie and steals every scene he is in. If that isn’t badass, then I don’t know what it.
The Gist: When the youngest brother of a family of Appalachians is murdered in the big city, the two older brothers must try their best to avenge their loss. One brother, who is a Chicago detective, will have to find the murderers before his oldest brother, a hillbilly hunter on a quest for revenge, can get to the murderers first and put them in the ground.
The Cast: This movie doesn’t quite fit into the filmography of Patrick Swayze all that well. I know he was born in Texas but I never looked at him as a Southern boy. He always seemed closer to his character in Point Break than anything else to me. He plays the straight-laced one here, and maybe that was my issue of the movie, but no matter how you try to fancy yourself up Patrick you can’t hide that mullet for long. Liam Neeson, in probably his first badass role plays an awesome hillbilly from deep in the sticks. I loved his redneck look, accent, and overall dirtiness. I grew up in an area not all that dissimilar from theirs and I can tell you that these people do exist. I would highly recommend this movie to any fan of Neeson’s just for his character alone. There were also some cool supporting actors such as Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton along for the ride.
Now that’s an impressive cast! Go ahead and make an Aliens/Roadhouse/Taken mash up please!
The Villain: I would say that the lack of a really good villain is what held this film back for me. I dig mobster movies and it’s good for action films to have a bunch of cannon fodder for our heroes to shoot up but I just couldn’t accept Adam Baldwin as the type of guy to do the terrible things that needed to be done for me to think of him as a great villain. A young Ben Stiller plays the son of the head boss and he does a fine job for what he was there for.
Adam Baldwin will always be Jayne from Firefly to me.
The Action: When the people of the hills make the trek up to kill some mobsters, they don’t mess around. We get an entire school bus full of snakes, a couple dudes firing bows, a shitload of shotguns, and a pack of hunting dogs. If any other group was portrayed as backwards as hillbillies I’m sure there would be protests or something. I doubt that backwoods folk care as much as the LGBT community. Swayze has it pretty good with his job. They only call him in apparently if some redneck commits a crime and they need to send in one of their own to talk him down. The rest of the movie he pretty much shrugs away his own job for his own personal vendetta, which if you can pull it off is the best way to do your job. My job leaves very little time for personal vendettas (which they never mentioned in the interview process) and I have to avenge on my free time.
The finale in the cemetery left a little to be desired but the brawl between Neeson and Swayze was fun.
Take it Home:
- Swayze: He filmed this flick between Road House and Ghost, which must have felt pretty weird. In fact, most of Swayze’s resume looks strange. He would go from action movie, to dancing movie, to a romance, then back to action as if he never noticed.
- Neeson: I guess it’s not much different than Liam Neeson’s career in the random department. He didn’t really hit his acting stride until the early to mid 90’s and now he only plays the same role over and over. “Irish Charles Bronson.”
- Co-stars: As I said before, Next of Kin has a who’s who of Academy Award winners and nominees. I didn’t even know Helen Hunt or Bill Paxton were in it until I re-watched it recently.