Run All Night Review!
Jimmy Conlon, aka The Gravedigger, aka Liam Neeson, is a former mob enforcer from New York. He doesn’t have much money, but what he does have is a particular set of skills. Skills he acquired over a long career of mob enforcement. Skills that end up making things a nightmare for people like ex-mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) and his spoiled, hot-headed son Danny (Boyd Holbrook). When Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) becomes a target after witnessing childhood friend Danny kill Albanian mob guys, Jimmy finds Danny, confronts him and, well you probably know the rest.
Suffice it to say, Run All Night is the latest bland, by-the-numbers action thriller capitalizing on the surprise success the Oscar-nominated Irishman found in films like Taken and The Grey. It doesn’t help that the director reigns were given to Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously helmed Neeson in the Taken clones Unknown and Non-Stop. And while they clearly work well together, it might have been nice to let a different filmmaker take on the material to give it a fresh perspective.
The plot, as mentioned, is nothing spectacular; Conlon essentially has to choose between siding with his former boss Maguire and his estranged son (guess who he picks!), and the film is essentially a cat-and-mouse between Conlon and his former cronies as he and his son attempt to get the heck out of Dodge while keeping Mike’s family safe. While the story is mostly generic, the filmmakers try to throw in a few unique cinematic touches to make the presentation interesting. Unfortunately, they mostly distract; establishing shots are often interconnected from one to the other via not-quite-convincing CGI and use excessive amounts of quick, B-roll shots to establish the locations. It effectively establishes the flavors of the locations, but feel more suited for documentaries, not action movies. Speaking of editing, that’s another issue the film suffers from. Scenes between characters are often cut way too much and too quickly during conversation scenes.
The acting from the leads mostly saves the movie from obscurity. Neeson gives Conlon a sad, desperate edge of a man trying to redeem himself from a long life of crime and his relationship with Mike provides the dynamic the film feeds. Unfortunately, Kinnaman seems unable to have any emotion on his face other than sad or angry, even when his character is suppose to be happy. Supporting character actor Vincent D’Onofrio has about five or six scenes in the movie as the detective trying to help/turn in Conlon, but manages to command each one, while rapper cum actor Common has almost no time onscreen as a rival assassin to stand out. Actress Genesis Rodriguez serves of the obligatory wife to Mike, who basically shows contempt for the circumstance Mike and Jimmy created and, um, that’s about it. Meanwhile, Boyd Hollbrook does a decent job as the nefarious Danny, giving his character a determined edge as the son trying to escape his mob boss dad’s shadow; too bad he doesn’t have much screen time either. The standout is the dynamic between Neeson and Harris, playing Maguire and Conlon as two old friends-turned-enemies. The three scenes they share together may remind one of the cool, mutual respect that DeNiro and Pacino traded in Heat. They even have a similar shoot-out toward the end of the film.
As far as the previous films Neeson and Collet-Serra have worked on together, this one may be the best of them all. As a film capitalizing on the success of Neeson’s superior action thillers, it’s enjoyable. As an action film in the annals of Die Hard or even the first Taken, it’s mostly forgettable. The performances from most of the cast and the small changes to the formula make a mostly B-grade thriller worth checking out. If Neeson is serious about two more years of action films left in him, though, hopefully Collet-Serra or other filmmakers will learn from this experience and give him a better story to go out with.
GRADE: C/3 out of 5/Wait until Redbox
Written by: Christopher Dees