Run All Night Review
What’s it about? Liam Neeson plays Jimmy Conlan, an alcoholic ex-hitman in Brooklyn. When his estranged son Mikey (Joel Kinnaman) gets involved in the death of the son of Jimmy’s former boss, they must run from both the mob and the police. Ed Harris stars as the crime boss Shawn Maguire, and they’re joined by Common, Vincent d’Onofrio and Nick Nolte.
Verdict: You know the drill by now. Since Taken, Liam Neeson has starred in countless action films, where he upsets the wrong people, and has to take them out/get away/rescue someone/get revenge. Anybody who has enjoyed this run of films will enjoy Run All Night as it’s more of the same. Anybody who hasn’t, won’t.
Run All Night doesn’t really bring anything new to the table. Neeson has done this so many times now that he could do it in his sleep, but these films have been such a success because he is so watchable and entertaining. He has a great screen presence, even if his character is one-dimensional and almost exactly the same as the one he’s played in other films. The supporting cast, though, is decent enough. Ed Harris adds some gravitas as the wounded crime boss and friend, and the scenes between Harris and Neeson feel like they are worthy of a better film than this.
Joel Kinnaman is okay as Mikey, though the way he is written simply doesn’t make sense at times. In the heat of a chase, he still won’t drop his (admittedly understandable) father issues. Indeed, the relationship between the Conlan father and son has been seen hundreds of times before and is as cliché as they come.
Recent Oscar-winner Common is the ace in the deck. He appears as a ruthless killer, as Maguire gets tired of seeing his henchmen picked off by the Conlans. Like the Terminator or the Winter Soldier, he has an unrelenting focus, which, combined with his gadgets, is a great addition to this film. He’s probably the only memorable character here.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who worked with Neeson on Non-Stop, doesn’t add any real flair or anything of note to raise this beyond ‘average action movie’. There are some ‘one shot’ scene changes where the camera zooms-out and pans to somewhere else before zooming back in, but this is a bit jarring and more Google Maps than Birdman.
Throughout the film there are numerous visual and plot references to Christmas (including Fairytale of New York – which is nice to hear anytime of year), which makes you think this was probably planned for a Christmas-time release, but they wanted to move it further away from the bigger-but-weaker Taken 3.
The action set pieces are passable, but nothing fans of the genre won’t have seen plenty of times before. There are some logic gaps and unexplained events too at times, which will leave you scratching your head, ‘how did the police let them escape from there?’. The pacing is a bit strange, with high-velocity action scenes coming out of nowhere then suddenly coming to an end with exposition-heavy segments. It’s actually very reminiscent of a Grand Theft Auto game, using a mission-based structure: first, do a simple driving mission; next, a car chase; now a cut screen; now escape this building.
Final Words: Run All Night is a perfectly passable Liam Neeson action film. Amongst this genre of films, it’s neither the worst nor the best, it’s simply the same as many others. We’ve seen the characters, the relationships and the plot before, but there’s still some fun to be had. Neeson and Harris are always watchable, and Common does bring a bit of excitement. You won’t miss anything by waiting for the DVD.
Run All Night is out in UK cinemas today.