Run All Night (2015)

Run All NightWhen limousine driver Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman) is witness to an incident involving Danny Maguire (Boyd Holbrook), the rebel son of reformed crime lord Shawn (Ed Harris), he finds himself being targeted by everyone Danny has on his payroll. The situation is further complicated when Mike’s father Jimmy (Liam Neeson), an old friend of Shawn’s who left his own family to serve the crime boss’ as their go-to hitman, kills Danny while defending his son and incurs Shawn’s wrath in the process. As Mike fears for his young family, evacuating them to a lakeside retreat from his past, Jimmy fights his way through the ranks — starting with their new hitman, Mr Price (Common), in an attempt to stop Shawn before the latter can exact his revenge.

Although Liam Neeson’s bewildering action-man makeover started with the Luc Besson produced Taken series, director Jaume Collet-Serra was also complicit in making the actor so ubiquitous within the genre. Having collaborated on Unknown and Non-Stop, two preposterously high-concept Euro-thrillers that — respectively — saw Neeson forget his part in an assassination attempts and face off against apparently well-intentioned terrorists aboard a crashing plane, the two reteemed for Run All Night, a rather more realistic and grounded sins of the father saga set in New York. However, what truly distinguishes Run All Night from Unknown and Non-Stop, and any other Neeson actioner for that matter, is that it’s actually quite good.

Neeson carries on pretty much as usual, but Collet-Serra has this time chosen to surround him with a higher caliber of supporting actor — Julianne Moore notwithstanding — of which Ed Harris is undoubtedly the most familiar face. Always watchable, Harris brings real conflict and complexity to Shawn, a character driven to avenge in death a son he wasn’t necessarily too fond of in life. However, lesser known talents include Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6), Vincent Philip D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) and Common (Selma), while Joel Kinnaman (of the much-maligned RoboCop remake) quickly redeems himself as Mike. It wouldn’t be hard to imaging Run All Night going straight to DVD, its poorly photoshopped cover replete with embarrassed-looking A-listers phoning in performances for an easy paycheck, but the actor’s here really earn their cinema release.

While undoubtedly Collet-Serra and Neeson’s most inspiring collaboration to date, Run All Night is sometimes a little too audacious for its own good. Stylistically, the computer-enhanced tracking shots that whisk the action from one location to the next jar horribly with the gritty, down-to-earth aesthetic established elsewhere, while a Christmas setting serves almost no purpose at all — save perhaps for a third act skirmish set to A Fairytale in New York that is barely eventful enough to register. It’s also needlessly violent, especially for a film about families each endeavoring to reinvent themselves as peaceful and legitimate. Jimmy spends the whole film insisting that his son doesn’t pull the trigger, all the while killing just about anyone who appears in his sights. It’s also a little confusing that such an apparent pacifist as Mike should coach boxing and work for Shawn (as a chauffeur, admittedly) in the first place.

Neeson’s best film since The Grey (not, of course, including his inspired, self-effacing voice work on The LEGO Movie), Run All Night is an unexpectedly taught, tense and intelligent thriller. With the actor teasing another two years of action hero-ing before he finally returns to more genteel roles, however (he will forever be the dad from Love, Actually, in my eyes at least), the question is whether he can keep it up.

3-Stars

 

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

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