Liam Neeson's board game adaptation film Battleship is currently streaming on Netflix.
Liam Neeson is known for his iconic role in Star Wars as Qui-Gon Jinn and as the lead of the Taken franchise, but one of his more forgotten roles has just taken aim at Netflix. For fans of alien-infused board game action, Battleship is available now to stream on Netflix.
Battleship dropped anchor on Netflix in late April 2023. Directed by Peter Berg and based on the classic board game of the same name, Battleship was released in 2012 and features a star-studded cast including Liam Neeson, Rihanna, Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, and Brooklyn Decker.
Director Peter Berg debuted with the 1998 black comedy Very Bad Things and also worked on the hit sports drama Friday Night Lights, but it might be Berg’s work on action films like The Kingdom and Hancock that he is best known for. Since working with Liam Neeson on Battleship, Berg has had a string of action film collaborations with actor Mark Wahlberg including Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, Mile 22, and Spenser Confidential.
The plot of Battleship revolves around a group of naval officers who are tasked with defending the Earth from an alien invasion when an extraterrestrial vessel lays siege to the planet. Liam Neeson plays Admiral Shane, the commander of the Pacific Fleet, the direct commander of the other officers, and the father of Samantha Shane (Brooklyn Decker), protagonist Alex Hopper’s love interest.
The classic board game pits two players who take on the roles of two rival navy commanders as they take turns attempting to guess the coordinates of their opponent’s ships on the concealed grid of their nemesis’ gameboard. Liam Neeson’s film disregards the navy-on-navy battle in favor of the human vs. alien approach but still maintains a few nods to the board game.
The weapons the aliens use to combat Liam Neeson and crew are giant peg-like shells that stick into the ships, just like the pegs used in the game. The aliens also use a force field that knocks out communication and forces the humans to create a grid to surmise where their enemies might be. The most satisfying moment from the film may come when Rihanna utters the line “mahalo motherfu—” right before blasting into the alien foe using the battleship’s turret.
Battleship was critically panned despite being poised to set up a potential franchise. Although some critics praised the film’s special effects, action sequences, and Liam Neeson’s individual performance, most criticized the film for its lack of originality and poor plot. Grossing $303 million against a whopping production budget of over $200 million, it ended up being a commercial failure.
Despite the mixed reception, Battleship has reemerged as a cult classic in recent years because of its over-the-top action sequences involving big ships, bright colors, and alien antics. Many may also be tuning in to see a rare dramatic performance from singer and business mogul Rihanna, whose performance was praised by some critics for holding her own alongside seasoned, critically adored actors like Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgård.
Outside of Liam Neeson’s Battleship, there have been several movies based on board games throughout the years, many of which have gained remakes and cult followings. 1985’s Clue based on the popular board game of the same name features an all-star cast including Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, and Madeline Kahn, and is known as a cult classic despite a poor box office showing for its multiple endings shown in different theaters.
Another movie based on a board game is 1995’s Jumanji, which starred Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, and Bradley Pierce, and tells the story of two children who get trapped inside the magical jungle-themed board game. The franchise recently received a revival in 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starring an all-star cast including Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart alongside appearances from some of the original cast members. The franchise continued with 2019’s Jumanji: The Next Level and an upcoming third film slated to release later in 2023.
Although Battleship may have stunk at the box office, it sunk its way into the hearts of many fans who don’t necessarily need an airtight plot to appreciate watching pretty colors and big ships go BOOM on screen. Although it may not be Liam Neeson’s most critically praised role, it is one worth revisiting for fans of the board game and the actor.