Cast: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Common
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Marking his third collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra, Run All Night marks the latest instalment in Liam Neeson’s career as an action star. At this stage the ‘Liam Neeson Action Film’ is starting to feel familiar and Neeson is certainly not getting any younger. Therefore Run All Night comes across as a little tired. It isn’t a bad film. The action is exciting enough and the characters are interesting enough, it just doesn’t have the same freshness and energy that other films like Taken had. To the film’s credit it does actually embrace this to a certain extent, portraying Neeson’s character as a tired old man at the end of his tether. Nevertheless the film still conveys a real sense of “been there, done that”.
Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is an aging hit man who, after decades of working under the employ of the notorious mobster and his childhood friend Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), is now haunted by the memories of his crimes and of the lives he has taken. By living a life of crime Jimmy was forced to leave his family, an action for which his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) has never forgiven him. Mike is now a limo driver who spends his spare time at the gym training young boxers. He is happily married with two kids and a third on the way and lives a contented life despite the clear shadow that his father’s dishonour has cast on him. Unfortunately Mike is dragged back into the criminal world when he ends up driving a client to see Shawn Maguire’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) only to witness their deaths at his hand. When Danny resolves to cover up his tracks by killing Mike, Jimmy intervenes and kills his best friend’s son.
Jimmy phones Shawn and informs him of what he has done out of honour and loyalty but declares that he fully intends to do everything in his power to keep his son safe. Their friendship comes to an end as Shawn employs his gangsters to hunt down Mike and avenge his son. He assures Jimmy that the hunt will not stop until he knows how it feels to lose his only child. The film takes place over the course as one night as Jimmy and Mike must work together to survive Shawn’s wrath, to escape the police who are now after them and to keep the rest of Mike’s family safe. Their differences come to the surface when Jimmy is forced to confront the wrongdoings that he has inflicted on his son as the crimes of his past start to catch up with him. When Detective Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio), an honest cop who has been after Conlon and Maguire for years, becomes aware of this case and starts actively pursuing them, Jimmy starts to wonder whether the time for him to repent and suffer the consequences for his crimes has arrived. Their scrape becomes all the more difficult when Shawn hires a professional contract killer (Common) to hunt the pair down.
The film hits the right notes as an action film. The action sequences are certainly thrilling enough. The characterisation, while not extensive, is still substantial enough for the audience to be invested. Liam Neeson can certainly still hold his own as an action star. However it is far from perfect. The film makes the mistake of opening with its climax which pretty much reveals to the audience everything they need to know about the film’s ending. While this was doubtless intended to function as a device in order to create an overlying sense of inevitability, it does, to me at least, take away from the film’s tension. The action is diminished by the awareness that these characters have to end up at a certain place and, when they do get there, the film builds up to quite a convoluted ending as it works its way through the climax. In addition the film makes a strong attempt to develop its characters by providing them with a detailed backstory, but does so in the absence of any resounding personalities. Therefore they are not particularly memorable and don’t make any sort of lasting impact.
Run All Night is not exactly a run-of-the-mill action film but it comes close. It is still an enjoyable and thrilling enough film in its own right. While the story isn’t exactly new or original, it isn’t formulaic or redundant either. While the characters are not dynamic or complex, they are not bland or lifeless. The action sequences, while not incredibly unique or innovative, are nevertheless gripping enough to be enjoyable. It is fine for what it is, which is a standard action film. This is the kind of action film that you watch if you aren’t looking for anything special and are just looking to kill a couple of hours.