Run All Night

2015-04-17 10:29

What it's about:

Jim Conlon is a washed up mob enforcer plagued by demons of his past, but when he kills the son of his boss and best friend while defending the life of his own estranged son, those demons come to the fore as he has to choose between his flesh and blood and the man to whom he has been loyal his whole life.

What we thought:

Teaming up once again with director Jaume Collet-Serra, with whom he already made two of his more solid action thrillers, Unknown and Non-Stop, Liam Neeson once again reminds us just how good he is at playing the grizzled action hero and just how capable he is of playing so much more than just the grizzled action hero. Run All Night definitely falls somewhere towards the top of Liam's late period ouvre, which was in itself quite a pleasant surprise, but it's hard to shake the feeling that it would perhaps have been far more effective – and most definitely far fresher – had its star not played basically the same character in his last dozen movies.

Now, yes, it's true: unlike most of his action roles, Neeson does play a guy who's basically a baddie but, really, that's only a technicality. While the film tells us a lot about Jim Conlon's past as a particularly cold blooded killer, it shows us a man who uses violence only in the defence of himself and others. For an apparent mob hitman, Conlon sure seems like a decent guy who does the right thing at every turn. It's Liam being Liam basically and though it's hard not to like him for it, I would really love to see him do something noticeably different for a change; really make use of his considerable acting chops.

As for the rest of the film around him, Run All Night is every bit as generic as its title implies, but that doesn't mean it isn't quite a good example of its genre. There's a nice grittiness to it and a cast filled with excellent, "serious" actors (Ed Harris, Nick Nolte, Vincent D'Onofrio) gives it more gravitas than most of these things usually have. Indeed, it almost has too much gravitas as it ends up feeling like it should have a whole lot more substance than it actually does. There's a gritty and complex crime drama in there somewhere but it never manages to do any more than peak out occasionally from behind the gunfire, explosions and hand to hand combat.    

Still, the film is what it is and, to be entirely fair, what it actually is, is done more than well enough. It's impressively well paced, for a start, as it nicely balances the action and the quieter, more dramatic moments. These characters aren't exactly complexly drawn but you do get just enough humanity to give some power to the core relationships in the films: the mentor/ buddy relationship between Jim and his friend-turned-boss-turned-enemy Shaun Maguire (Harris) and the father-son relationship between Jim and Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman, holding his own in a cast of veteran heavy weights).  

Where it does falter somewhat as an action thriller though, are in its action scenes. While its nowhere near the worst of its kind (think Quantum of Solace or, oddly enough, Taken 3) the rapid-cut editing of the action robs it of much of its effect. This is especially disappointing when you consider that the action is otherwise quite well choreographed and clearly depicted, but it ends up feeling like a patchwork of uber-short Vine clips, rather than a cohesive whole. That it's done better than a great many action flicks (and boy, has the word “flicks” ever been more appropriate) these days, doesn't really make up for how over-used this particular edited-to-death style of shooting action scenes has become.   

Flaws or no flaws though, Run All Night is a perfectly decent, nuts and bolts action-thriller and is easily Liam Neeson's best action hero role in a while. It's no more than that but, hey, at least it's no less than that either.

Read more on:    liam neeson  |  movies

Richard 2015/04/18 15:42
want to watch this one liam Neeson awesome actor
Wikus Swart 2015/04/20 15:50
Damn I enjoy reading your reviews Ilan. Really tells me what to expect. Keep it up please.
Wikus Swart 2015/04/20 16:11
Damn I enjoy reading your reviews Ilan. Really tells me what to expect. Keep it up please.
HP 2015/04/21 16:28
Good acting from Liam Neesonm,but too much violence for me and less exciting than Taken 3. So this one 2 stars for me and taken3 4.
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