Synopsis: Brooklyn mobster and prolific hit man Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), once known as The Gravedigger, has seen better days. Longtime best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), Jimmy, now 55, is haunted by the sins of his past-as well as a dogged police detective who’s been one step behind Jimmy for 30 years. Lately, it seems Jimmy’s only solace can be found at the bottom of a whiskey glass. But when Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), becomes a target, Jimmy must make a choice between the crime family he chose and the real family he abandoned long ago. With Mike on the run, Jimmy’s only penance for his past mistakes may be to keep his son from the same fate Jimmy is certain he’ll face himself…at the wrong end of a gun. Now, with nowhere safe to turn, Jimmy just has one night to figure out exactly where his loyalties lie and to see if he can finally make things right.
Release Date: March 13, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
If ever there were a low risk, of-the-moment proposition in Hollywood it would be Liam Neeson in an early year action/thriller. Ever since Taken, the now 60-year-old actor has been on an action heavy tear, popping out slightly different thrillers with the regularity of a spring chicken. His latest, Run All Night, mixes up the formula ever so slightly, and in the end it’s a perfectly enjoyable Liam Neeson flick. It doesn’t do much to engage, but few will mind anyway.
Run All Night shakes things up a bit by casting Neeson as Jimmy Conlon, a retired hit man and alcoholic. His work for mob boss and close friend Shawn Maguire (Snowpiercer‘s Ed Harris) has certainly taken a toll on Jimmy’s mental state and his relationship with his son Michael (RoboCop‘s Joel Kinnaman), but Neeson still has that trademark likeability lurking right under the surface. For the most part, Jimmy just tries to get by, but when Shawn’s son Danny crosses paths with Michael, he must make a quick decision – one that will force father and son to work together and survive the night.
The basic premise of “survive until morning” plays out as expected in Run All Night. There are several dust ups between Jimmy, Michael, and Shawn’s crew – including some corrupt cops – that are thrilling enough. They fit the B-movie action bill well, but to say that we’ve seen Neeson in these types of situations before would be a huge understatement. It’s mostly a case of how will Jimmy and Michael get out of this situation, played out until inevitably one side comes out the victor.
While the action in Run All Night is fairly formulaic, the acting is anything but. With some heavy hitters like Ed Harris and Liam Neeson on opposing ends, Run All Night uses its veterans as a huge strength. Scenes between Neeson and Harris are the genuine highlight of the film, as the two bring the friend/enemy dynamic to full bear. Shawn knows duty dictates he punish Jimmy, but he feels genuine anguish in the process. Similarly, Neeson plays a broken father with nothing to lose as well as can be expected. He’s in classic overprotective, super violent Liam Neeson mode and that seems to be exactly how fans like him. Whether that makes for a dynamic or compelling character, however, is up for debate.
Visually, Run All Night is a well-made film, using New York’s bustling nightlife as a vicious backdrop. Sure, we’ve seen New York at night before, but there are moments within the film that add splashes of style and color in some creative ways. There’s a particularly inventive scene involving a smoky high rise that’s not only fun to look at but pretty well put together. Jaume Collet-Serra, who also directed Neeson in last year’s Non-Stop, knows how to make a handsome picture, even if the story beats within said film aren’t particularly inventive.
In the end, Run All Night succeeds at what it sets out to do: be an entertaining 2-hour Liam Neeson action thriller where the seemingly broken man finds redemption with his son. Yes, things don’t go down any interesting paths, and yes that’s likely a calculated marketing decision, but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. Neeson still brings in the audiences with films like Run All Night, and if you’ve been a fan of his for this long, you might as well check this one out.
Along the same line as the film itself, the action in Run All Night succeeds in getting the job done, but it’s hardly memorable. A few decent shootouts, some chase scenes, and a showdown between Neeson and Harris is what you sign up for, and Run All Night delivers. It may not do enough to go above and beyond expectations, but that’s not the Liam Neeson action thriller formula anyway. Average moviegoers pay to see Neeson punch some faces and shoot some bad guys, so in that regard Run All Night should be money well spent.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jaume Collett-Serra
- Screenwriter(s): Brad Ingelsby
- Cast: Liam Neeson (Jimmy Conlon)Ed Harris (Shawn Maguire)Joel Kinnaman (Mike Conlon) Boyd Holbrook (Danny Maguire)Genesis Rodriguez (Gabriela Conlon)Bruce McGill (Pat Mullen)Vincent D’Onofrio (Detective Harding)Common (Andrew Price)
- Editor(s): Dirk Wstervelt
- Cinematographer: Martin Ruhe
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Junkie XL
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA