Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson team up for the third time*, and deliver your average run-of-the-mill crime thriller. Pitting Neeson’s sorrowful drunk Jimmy Conlon, against his old partner in crime Shawn Maquire (Ed Harris), after Jimmy kills Shawn’s screw-up son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook).
I say run-of-the-mill but perhaps that’s a little unfair, as this is a Liam Neeson action movie after all. Which usually brings something extra to the table beyond mindless violence and big explosions. I would just say in Run All Night, that little something extra isn’t all that much to get excited about, and by the second act of the film is all but gone from the production.
During the first act, the set up is nicely done, and the world in which these characters interact and know each other feels very authentic. This is a brotherhood of criminals, and Jimmy is their crazy alcoholic uncle. Trying to drink away the ghosts of his victims, amassed during his tenure as Shawn Maquire’s hitman.
The problems with the movie however, start during the second act, as style overpowers content, and the action gets damn right ridiculous. Setting up over-the-top car chases and gun battles that would feel more at home in an eighties actioner starring Stallone or Schwarzenegger. And the movie completely jumps the shark when Common appears as a Terminator wannabe, complete with a laser sighted pistol and a Borg like infrared eye-piece.
It’s like there are two movies here. The first is a tightly written well acted thriller that delves into the pitfalls of life within a powerful crime family. The second is an all out silly action movie that throws logic out of the window. If Run All Night had stayed the course with either of these approaches, this movie might have worked on some level, but as delivered it struggles, and Liam Neeson needs to maybe take a break from the action movie genre. He is after all a very talented actor, with a great deal of range.
* Unknown, Non-Stop and Run All Night.
If you enjoyed A Walk Among the Tombstones and the Taken series, then you may get some enjoyment from this film. The movie is rated R for violence and language.
Run All Night is nicely shot, but editor Dick Westervelt hacks this movie to pieces and never allows the film to sit still for a moment, even when it should slow down the take in the view. If you can’t wait for the HD version to rent at home, then just take on a matinée screening. This film will be harder to follow on a portable sized screen.
Common’s appearance in this film is pretty bad. Showing up as the clichéd ‘professional killer’, but acting more like a mindless thug with cool gadgets. His character’s motivations are never clearly communicated, and his willingness to continue the hunt despite several major injuries just makes no sense at all.