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Critics hail Liam's Neeson return to movie priesthood, and it's only for three scenes

By Sophie Inge

Hollywood action hero Liam Neeson has been hailed by film critics for taking on a very different role, in Martin Scorsese's newest film, Silence.

Based on Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel of the same name, the film follows the story of two 17th century Portuguese Jesuit priests, Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) and Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) who travel to Japan to find their mentor, Father Ferreira (Neeson) after rumours he has renounced Christianity.

Commenting on the Ballymena actor's role, The Telegraph's Robbie Collin, who gave the film five stars, wrote: "Father Ferreira lurks somewhere in the background: when he finally surfaces it's only for three scenes, but each one comes down with the lasting impact of a branding iron, leaving the tang of char behind it."

Empire magazine, meanwhile, gave the film four out of five stars. "Less showy than The Last Temptation Of Christ, more gripping than Kundun, the third part of Scorsese's unofficial 'religious' trilogy is beautifully made, staggeringly ambitious and utterly compelling," the reviewer stated.

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, who also gave the film four out of five, wrote: "Martin Scorsese's powerful, emotional film takes its audience on a demanding journey with a great sadness at its end."

However, he said the film was not without its flaws.

"Perhaps the casting of its stars, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, could have been reversed, to place more emphasis on Driver as the stronger performer, though Garfield's boyish screen personality becomes haunted and complex," he wrote.

Described as Scorsese's "passion project", Silence has been in development since 1990.

It's the second time Neeson (64) has worked with the legendary director, following his role in the epic period drama, Gangs of New York, in 2002.

But it's also the second time Neeson has played a Jesuit priest. The Mission also starred Scorsese favourite actor Robert De Niro along with Jeremy Irons, and Neeson's fellow Irish actors Ray McAnally and Aidan Quinn.

Silence will be released in the UK on January 1.

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