Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris, Common
UK Release Date: 13th March 2015
It’s always refreshing to see an actor step out of their comfort zone, sharpening their thespian chops and expanding their theatrical horizons with a demanding new character. Liam Neeson takes such a challenge in Jaume Collet-Smith’s new action flick, Run All Night. He is an ex-professional killer, struggling with a damaged conscience and fractured family dynamic – but through a series of trials that bring his old skills back into play, both father and child will go on an adrenaline-fueled journey of understanding, ultimately learning to accept the past and embrace the future. Groundbreaking stuff, right? Doesn’t sound familiar at all? All sarcasm aside, Run All Night serves as a functional action romp despite its apparent lack of originality.
Written by Brad Ingelsby (Out Of The Furnace), the story takes place over one night in New York City. Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is pitched against his former underworld boss and close friend, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Shawn’s son, an up-and-coming sociopathic douchebag named Danny, has been killed by Jimmy in order to protect his own son, a hardworking citizen named Mike. After Shawn promises a swift and brutal revenge against Mike and his young family, Jimmy must protect his estranged son from corrupt cops, malicious mobsters and contract killers.
Run All Night marks the third collaboration between Liam Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra, following “Unknown” and “Non-Stop”, and it’s arguably their best work yet. The novel set-up, showing Neeson’s Jimmy as a drunken loser in the full throes of total humiliation, is a welcome change of pace from the typical formula (reminiscent of Tom Cruise’s unusually cowardly character in Edge Of Tomorrow’s opening act), even if it’s all quickly forgotten once the pace quickens. Fans of Hollywood’s leading “action dad”, or in this case “action grandad”, are sure to be satisfied with the ratios of bullet dodging and face punching on offer.
Liam Neeson and Ed Harris are both reliably solid, the “friends-turned-enemies” relationship between them is an interesting spin that is generally well played out, even if their performances are nothing that we haven’t seen before (it’s no surprise that the 62 year old Neeson has announced his retirement from action movies within 2 years). Joel Kinnaman scowls his way through the film with a remarkable sense of angry sadness, and Common’s role as the cold, calculated hitman is similarly one-note. Nick Nolte appears for a single scene of gruff, barked dialogue that seems misplaced – both Notle and Common’s roles beg further development and involvement in the story, as both are shown to have considerable history with Neeson and Harris’s characters.
Although the film seems betters suited to 90 minute run-time, as opposed to the 115 minutes that it takes to finish, the narrative unfolds at an acceptable pace. The night time New York setting is expectedly beautiful, showcased with impressive CGI sweeps that aid focus when the story spans multiple city boroughs. The predictability of the plot is an issue throughout, especially given that the film chooses to reveal the final shots at the very beginning. While this isn’t a huge issue in an action flick, omitting the revealing opening could have helped to add a greater level of suspense, particularly in the final act.
Run All Night is nothing particularly special in cinematic terms, but it’s definitely a fun “leave your brain in the car” movie. With character relationships and a premise that are more genuine and interesting than most action pictures, Run All Night is the kind of film that Taken 3 should have been – imperfect, but impactful in all the right places.
★ ★ ★
3 / 5 stars
Written by James Excell