The filmmaker insists Neeson was convincing as an oil driller stranded in Alaska because he's so rugged - unlike the clean-cut young stars who are often cast as action heroes.
Carnahan tells Collider, "I don't think it's crazy when you have a town now that has put so much premium on boys instead of men. And has put so many shirtless 17-year-olds in front of the camera and tried to pass off as a masculine form.
"I have nothing against the younger generations, but I feel when I look in their eyes, I don't see s**t, man. I don't see a life lived, I don't see experience, I don't see dirt under the nails, I don't see loss, tragedy, you name it.
"The reason that a guy like Liam, who's nearly 60 years old, is having this resurgent kind of career swing is because we are sorely lacking in his ilk in this business right now."
Carnahan believes Neeson has also become the go-to leading man in Tinseltown since he has the power to pull in huge audiences.
He adds, "I know for a fact he shot a week on (upcoming movie) Battleship, he was on it one week. You look at that trailer and it looks like a Liam Neeson film. So there you go, he was obviously a huge component, he was put in that trailer to get people's interest, because he does. He's Zeus."