Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer(s): Brad Ingelsby
Cast: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris, Common, Vincent D’Onofrio, Genesis Rodriguez, and Bruce McGill
Synopsis: Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
We have grown accustom to seeing Liam Neeson kick major ass and shoot people in the last few years. I know that sounds like there is a “but” coming, but I assure you, I love watching Neeson beat the crap out of people half his age as much as the next person. The nice thing though is that Neeson tries to bring something – if he can – new to every role. In Run All Night, he does it again and we better enjoy it if Neeson’s claim about hanging up his action film boots in the next couple of years is true. If they are, Run All Night will be one of the great ones we can look back on.
Run All Night follows aging hitman Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) – once known as the Gravedigger – who is a bit down on his luck, a drunk, and is forced to taking some handouts from his best friend, and mob boss, Shawn Maguire (Harris) and Shawn’s son Danny (Holbrook). As you have seen in every ad for the film, Jimmy ends up shooting Danny when he was going to shoot Jimmy’s son, Michael (Kinnaman), for reasons I’ll leave out of the review, and after the events they are put on Shawn’s hit-list. The estranged father and son must outrun Shawn’s men, the cops, and a hitman named Price (Common).
Overall the story is simple, but it does have some layers to it which is welcomed because otherwise it wouldn’t be as good as it was. The film takes a bit to get moving, but it serves to set up the relationship between Jimmy and Shawn, which is one of the strongest components of the film. However, director Jaume Collet-Serra fumbles other aspects of the film that either slows the film down or some really questionable decisions that can irritate you.
Collet-Serra tries to make New York City its own character in the film, but at the same time makes it feel cheesy. When there is going to be a new scene, the camera zooms out and makes a CGI transition to the new location where it will zoom in. That kind of thing works better in a video game and not in a film. I don’t want it to sound nitpicky, but it is does feel out of place here and distracting, the good thing is it doesn’t happen every time.
The action is fine, Neeson changes up his usual fist fights for shootouts, expect for a bathroom brawl. The set-pieces work well enough, although Collet-Serra messes around with the editing at moments that make it hard to know what’s going on or see the action. The highlight of the film is definitely an early car chase and a burning building action sequence.
As for the actors, Neeson as Jimmy is always reliable and is again here, although he will probably play his least sympathetic character here for some. Jimmy does love his son, even though Michael wants nothing to do with him. He also doesn’t want his son to end up like him and constantly tells him not to fire a gun. Joel Kinnaman does okay as Jimmy’s son Michael. Kinnaman balances some lack of sympathy for Jimmy and danger as he is being chased down by every hitman and cop in the city.
Ed Harris as Shawn is great and it’s kind of a shame he’s not in it more, but his scenes with Neeson are the best scenes in the film. They play well off each other and you can really scenes the friendship, brotherhood, and history they convey in those scenes. Common pops in as hitman Andrew Price, who is this unstoppable force in his very limited scene role. Common has shown he’s a good actor in the right role, but anyone could have played this role really even though he handles himself well.
The rest of the cast is filled out by Boyd Holbrook who plays Danny, who has a significant amount a screen time before he bites the dust. Bruce McGill plays Shawn’s right hand man and even though McGill is a great actor he is heavily underused, to the point that I think he only has a few lines of dialogue. Genesis Rodriguez plays Michael’s wife Gabriela who doesn’t really add much to the story and finally, Vincent D’Onofrio plays Detective Harding, who is trying to get Jimmy to confess to his crimes and make a deal with him. There is also a cameo appearance by a well-known actor that really comes out of nowhere and I was left wondering why there weren’t more scenes with him in the film.
All in all, Run All Night stumbles a bit when it slows down, but when it comes the action and the cast, it is a great time to watch.
Run all Night
4 out of 5