Liam Neeson’s action movie binge continues with Run All Night, a serviceable thriller with a good cast that sells the material. It might not be award-winning stuff, but it’s a decent watch. The cast really does elevate the material, and as usual, Neeson makes the most of the genre. Just as well, too. I read a blurb online that he only plans to do action movies for two more years, then he’s leaving the genre behind. We’ll see. Eventually, someone might…pull him back in! Ha.
Liam Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a long time hitman for his old friend and mob boss, Shawn MacGuire (an excellent Ed Harris). Jimmy has to decide where his loyalties lie; with his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) who’s life is in danger, or with Shawn, who wants Mike to pay for his own sons’ death.
Basically, Shawn’s son, Danny, makes a bad deal with some drug lord, and Jimmy’s son, Mike, witnesses something he shouldn’t. Danny tries to kill Mike, and Jimmy stops kills Danny, and now Shawn wants Mike dead, and will do everything he can to make it happen. So now it’s a race to survive for Jimmy and Mike, as they evade Shawn, his thugs, the dirty cops on his payroll, and anyone else Shawn can get involved, like a hired killer played by Common.
It’s a pretty straight forward deal, lots of chases in the city, on subways, etc. The action is good stuff, and there’s even some bullet time shots here and there. It’s got a bit of style. Same director as Neeson’s last tow films, Non-Stop and Unknown.
But the acting here is solid and I think elevates the film some, as well as a few interesting things done in the script. Neeson plays Jimmy with some weight. He’s been a hitman for a long time and the burden of guilt weighs on him. He drinks to cope with the things he’s done. Ok, drinks too much in order to cope. That adds some depth and a sense of sadness to his role. It also makes Shawns’ men disrespect Jimmy and think he’s an embarrassment seeing as he ends up too drunk to function sometimes. But Shawn is an old friend and he takes care of him, and hey, he’s the boss so he tells everyone else to shut up.
This relationship makes it even more meaningful when things happen the way they do. Shawn makes it very clear how much he wants to make Jimmy suffer, and yet there is still a lot of friendship and respect between them. And the relationship between Jimmy, and his son, Mike, is strained. Jimmy never wanted Mike in organzied crime – he wanted him as far from it as possible, so Jimmy was hardly a part of Mike’s life. This makes Mike resent his father, so there’s room for some kind of arc in that relationship.
Run All Night may not be a great title, but the film is certainly solid enough viewing. And for the record, the end doesn’t follow the usual Hollywood resolution, and feels like the only ending that would satisfy here. Do you need to see this on a bg screen? Nah. But it’s well worth a rent or on a plane, or even a less expensive On Demand viewing if it turns up there. A solid three kittenhands for Run All Night.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, figuring we have, what? – three more Liam Neeson action films before he moves on? Enjoy it while it lasts, kids! 😉