Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Written by Brad Ingelsby
In the early goings on the new calendar year, I guess it makes sense that a gritty action movie features on the release schedule. And of course, anymore these days when you think of a gritty action movie, Liam Neeson is often the star. Such is the case in Run All Night, just another in the long line of action films Neeson has made since the initial success of Taken. True action movies, apart from the super hero genre, have pretty much been ruled by Neeson in recent years and at 62, I have begun to wonder just how long this reign can last for him.
Run All Night finds Liam Neeson playing an ex-hitman, Jimmy Conlon, whose life has come on hard times. His old friend, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), has morphed his criminal empire into a more legitimate business venture. His son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), on the other hand, still has a penchant for shady dealings. So when Danny gets into trouble with the wrong crowd, his limo driver, Jimmy’s good son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), sees something he shouldn’t, which sets off a night of running as Jimmy attempts to do good and protect his son, who still wants nothing to do with him.
Liam Neeson is everything you might expect from his action films these days. Gruffy and hardened from a life of crime, yet morally obliged to save his good son from the fray in which they have found themselves. The film, however, suffers from a lack of true vision. Director Collet-Serra’s use of scatterbrain editing and geographical zooms bring less a sense of unique style and more a sense of forced cool. There are scenes that reveal the films potential to transcend the genre, but they become fleeting, as the film quickly falls back into convention. The supporting cast does help to elevate the film by bringing a veteran presence while failing to ever really deliver on the promise of their talents. Joel Kinnaman is quite good, and the only supporter who really gets enough screen time to prove it. His good-intentioned Mike is a welcome addition to a cast of characters otherwise morally bankrupt.
Ed Harris, an actor whose work I very much enjoy, is sadly never truly given enough of a chance to shine next to Neeson, clearly making the point that even though the great Harris is in the film, it is very much a Neeson vehicle. Common, meanwhile, has no business being in the film, not because of his performance, but because his character feels completely out of place. Perhaps the greatest disappointment was in the appearance of Bruce McGill, an ultimate “That Guy” who often shows up in bit parts to steal the scene from leading men. However, McGill is non-existent. I could have easily have blinked and missed that he was in the film altogether. The other side of the McGill coin is Vincent D’Onofrio, who is quite great in the film. Well, when he is on screen, that is. The wasteland of supporting cast becomes more a frustration of the experience than a positive addition.
Liam Neeson is to the point in his career where his roles have become somewhat the same, and the quality of his films has become somewhat predictable. The Liam Neeson action hero was of course born out of the success of Taken, but has since become a whole sub-genre of action movies with a solid fan base who are willing to support these films. Run All Night is another entry into that series, but adds some new pieces to the formula with a solid supporting cast around Neeson, but fails to bring fresh plot points to the formula, making the finished product a predictably entertaining, if not somewhat stale action movie with elements that work, but ones that are so tried and true that they feel as though they might be starting to overstay their welcome. With Run All Night, I certainly feel like we get what we bargained for, but I’d also like to see Neeson start to broaden his horizons, if not outside his sub-genre, then at least within it.
**1/2 – Average