Run All Night, 2015.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra.
Starring Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris, Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Boyd Holbrook, Common and Holt McCallany.
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.
When Liam Neeson first purposefully told those pesky bad guys in Taken that he’d find them, and then kill them, few (even Neeson himself) would have envisioned his career taking such a dramatic shift into becoming an action star. Even whilst the likes of Stallone and Schwarzenegger found themselves having a brief renaissance thanks to The Expendables franchise, the interest in them soon waned, whilst Neeson has remained fairly bankable.
The Taken franchise has made a fortune, and his other actioners have turned tidy profits compared to their modest budgets. The key is of course, not overextending themselves. It would be a huge gamble for Neeson to headline a $100 million budget action picture (particularly if not part of the Taken franchise), but the studios have sensibly kept budgets down, whilst still allowing enough bank for the buck that Neeson can crack plenty of skulls. Neeson has taken to his new role as chief action man (of a certain age) with aplomb and in addition offers the sort of gravitas and acting ability that a lot of his more established contemporaries such as Arnold and Sly, either don’t have, or have long since lost the ability to deliver.
Run All Night marks the third collaboration between Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra (The Unknown and Non-Stop). Both previous team-ups were high concept, slightly daft but none-the-less enjoyable action thrillers. Much in those films rested on the screen presence of Neeson and his ability to add depth to the two-dimensional characters put before him in script format. Not only can Neeson deliver believability in the characters he’s playing, but also in their physicality and actions. He’s certainly not out of place when the shit hits the fan and the carnage ensues.
Run All Night is a more straight down the middle film than the previous two Collet-Serra collaborations. There’s no high concept here or need for a third act twist, it’s just a gritty, balls to the wall action thriller very much in the vein of the sort of revenge themed films of the 70’s. When Michael Conlon witnesses the son of crime boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) killing a couple of Albanian drug dealers in a deal gone bad, Maguire junior (Boyd Holbrook) goes after Conlon with the intention of killing him. Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), childhood friend (and former employee) of Shawn, intervenes and kills Shawn’s son. Maguire demands retribution. He wants Michael dead, but Jimmy must do everything in his power, over the course of one night to make sure his estranged son survives, whilst also clearing Mike’s name having been implicated for an ever growing line up of dead bodies.
This is a dark, brooding and relentless action thriller. There’s nothing new here whatsoever. It’s steeped in darkness and the sort of mood that was prevalent throughout American cinema in the 70’s. Jimmy is a character drinking himself into the grave, haunted by the sins of his past. It’s not a cheery movie and doesn’t aim to paint many of the characters in a positive light, but there is hope for Michael, and it’s that which drives Jimmy to keep his son alive, whilst ensuring that Mike doesn’t get blood on his hands.
The cast really elevate the simple idea. Neeson is typically solid in this sort of role. Once again he portrays his character with pathos and believability, and of course when push comes to shove, he’s believable as a physical force. Ed Harris adds a lot of texture to his role. Again, it’s not a role that breaks any new ground, and much like Neeson, Harris can do this sort of thing in his sleep, but he’s fantastic here and the scenes between he and Neeson in particular are very good. They take the familiar, what we have seen in other films of this genre many times and elevate those scenes. Elsewhere Holbrook impresses in his brief role as Danny Maguire and Joel Kinnaman is also very good as Mike. Nick Nolte pops up briefly, if only to leave audiences wondering just what the hell has happened to Nick Nolte.
There is a decent amount of action here. Collet-Sera perhaps indulges in a few too many stylistic flourishes but on the whole it’s a good looking film with some solid set pieces (without anything greatly memorable). The music by Junkie XL (yes…seriously) is rousing, if a little formulaic.
Ultimately as the early box office takings suggest, this is a solid enough thriller, but the lack of a high concept probably hasn’t helped in attracting a bigger audience as Non-Stop did (and the R rating means a smaller audience too). Much like A Walk Among the Tombstones, it’ll do solid and unspectacular business and is a decent time passer. Not memorable, not ground breaking in any way, but delivered by a talented cast and serviceable director.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★