Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnamon, Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio and Nick Nolte
Running Time: 114 minutes
Release Date: March 13th
Less than two months after her career nadir Taken 3, Liam Neeson is back defending one of his offspring using his particular set of skills. Thankfully, Luc Besson’s grubby fingerprints are nowhere in sight, as Run All Night has more in common with the recently over-looked Neeson hard-boiler A Walk Among the Tombstones.
Former hitman for the mob and current alcoholic laughing stock, Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is only kept around because of his long friendship with crime kingpin Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). When Jimmy’s estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses Shawn’s loose-cannon of a son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) kill Albanian drug dealers, Danny tries to kill Mike, which results in Jimmy killing Danny. Shawn, blind with vengeance, promises swift and bloody retribution down upon Jimmy and his whole family, so off Jimmy and Mike go, trying to survive the night in some of New York’s rougher areas, trying to find a way out of this mess while working through some complicated father-son issues.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra has provided two Neeson turkeys to date with Unknown and Non-Stop, but here working from a script by Brad Inglesby (Out of the Furnace), he gets to focus more on the characters and less on the last-minute plot-twists. There is a satisfying depth to proceedings, a story seeped in 70s grit and atmosphere, one that borrows its style and tone just as much from Death Wish as it does from The French Connection. One protracted action scene across an entire apartment complex is a particular highlight, if only because Collet-Serra pays attention to things like the geography of the scene, clean camerawork and mounted tension; basically everything that Michael Bay ignores.
That’s not to say that Run All Night is an unmitigated success, with its barely two hour running time still feeling thirty minutes too long thanks to the painful obviousness from frame one of how the story will play out. Nick Nolte shows up just long enough for us to ask “Is that Nick Nolte?” before he disappears from the film, Vincent D’Onofrio supplants Forest Whitaker as the “You have no idea what he’s capable of!” cop guy, Common pops in and out as a hitman who seems to have watched The Terminator one too many times, Kinnaman doesn’t leave much of an impression other than being a bit of a wet blanket, and for all the shades of grey they try to paint Jimmy in, he’s still basically just Bryan Mills with a hangover.
Still though, it’s got car chases and explosions and fist fights and good actors delivering decent dialogue and a plot that doesn’t feel like it was written on the back of a napkin. As far as Liam Neeson old-man-still-kicking-ass movies go, you could do a lot worse. A LOT worse.