RUN ALL NIGHT
*** (out of 5)
March 13, 2015
Liam Neeson as JIMMY CONLON
Ed Harris as SHAWN MAGUIRE
Joel Kinnaman as MIKE CONLON
Boyd Holbrook as DANNY MAGUIRE
Bruce McGill as PAT MULLEN
Genesis Rodriguez as GABRIELA CONLON
Vincent D’Onofrio as DETECTIVE HARDING
Common as ANDREW PRICE
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
On my way to the screening of “Run All Night,” I realized that this will be the third Liam Neeson ass-kicking film in the last three months. Considering “The Walk Among the Tombstones” was too dour for my tastes and “Taken 3” abandoned the best parts of the formula, this might actually be my favorite of this recent run.
Here’s a guy who would have to be in his eighties to do a movie like “The Expendables.” His best action movie years are practically as a senior citizen, and he’s as every bit believable in the roles as Stallone or Schwarzenegger were in their thirties and forties. I like that, and it’s great to see Neeson finally settling into money-making movies after having such a long career in smaller films. (Seriously, does anyone remember his role in “Krull” back in the 80s?)
It is the fact that I enjoy watching Neeson doing these roles that pretty much saves “Run All Night.” Well, him and Ed Harris, who does a great job as an aging mob boss seeking revenge. Joel Kinnaman, not so much. This guy seems to be the action movie flavor of the month, getting cast in remake flops like “Robocop” after making a little bit of a splash in the critically adored but wretchedly terrible television series “The Killing.”
Still, I recognize “Run All Night” exactly for what it is, and that’s a pulpy New York City crime drama with a few decent action set pieces.
The story follows Neeson as a mob hit man named Jimmy Conlon. He is still very friendly with the mob, going as far to playing Santa (drunk, of course) for the family’s Christmas party. His son Mike (Kinnaman) is estranged from his father, working a menial job as a limo driver so as to not have anything to do with the criminal life. One night, Mike happens to be assigned some mobsters who take a limo out to the home of Danny Maguire (Boyd Holbrook), the son of the famous mobster Shawn Maguire (Harris).
When Danny kills his two visitors, he realizes that Mike is a witness and tries to kill him. Fortunately, Jimmy shows up at the last minute as is able to kill Danny before he puts a bullet in Mike. This sends Jimmy and Mike on the run while Shawn sends the whole of his criminal organization after them for revenge.
It seems a little odd that “Run All Night” shares a lot of plot points with last fall’s shoot-em-up “John Wick.” Sure, this one attempts to be more grounded as a gritty and realistic crime thriller (aside from a ridiculously staged action sequence leading into the film’s final act). It’s less of a smorgasbord of action and violence than a darker drama about a man seeking the approval of his son. However, both of them have the same beats of an old hit man going after a boss’s son only to become the most wanted man in the city.
(Oddly enough, “Run All Night” shares a slate of other connective tissue with other films, including the fact that Boyd Holbrook starred with Neeson in “A Walk Among the Tombstones” and director Jaume Collet-Serra also was in charge of Neeson’s other films “Non Stop” and “Unknown.”)
There are some elements of heavy-handed direction, particularly in the transitions between scenes and the master shots. Collet-Serra certainly loves the virtual camera in this movie, which sometimes looks cool (e.g., when it’s featured in the climax) and sometimes doesn’t (e.g., when it flies around the city between scenes, looking like test footage for “The Matrix”).
Still, it’s always enjoyable watching Liam Neeson kick ass on screen yet again. I’m a sucker for these things. I’m not saying “Run All Night” is worth full price at theater, but it’s not bad for a five dollar matinee, a rental or a way to waste a lazy Saturday afternoon if you swerve through it on cable.