Liam Neeson plays an ex-mob enforcer protecting his estranged son in the thriller Run All Night. Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is an aging hitman haunted by the crimes of his past. He has fallen out with his son Michael (Joel Kinnaman), who he hasn’t seen for five years, and his only true friend is his old boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Shawn’s hothead son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) gets involved in a drug deal gone sour, which ends in a murder witnessed by Michael, who was the dealers’ limo driver. This results in Jimmy getting involved and he is forced to kill Danny, in order to save Michael. Grief stricken, Shawn vows revenge on the both Jimmy and Michael, who reluctantly team together to go on the run and survive the night, all while being pursued by Shawn’s men, the police lead by Detective Harding (Vincent D'Onofrio), and deadly hitman Andrew Price (Common).
Run All Night marks Liam Neeson’s third collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously directed Neeson in Unknown and last year’s Non-Stop. The film also continues Neeson’s action phase, which has been going on since he had a hit with Taken in 2008. While Neeson still continues to make these films, it can be argued that this phase of his career has probably run its course. I was pretty underwhelmed when I saw Non-Stop last year and Taken 3, which I have yet to see, got absolutely trashed critically.
I have to admit that I liked Run All Night somewhat better than Non-Stop, even though it is still an incredibly generic thriller. The first act of film is probably the most difficult to watch, since it includes, among other things, Jimmy as a washed up drunk making lewd comments and teenage black kid recording a cellphone rap video in the back of Michael’s limo. Even though he’s the linchpin for the entire plot, the film makes sure to establish Danny as possibly the most terrible person in the world, who likely had it coming, no matter who pulled the trigger. While this does add a sense of irony to Shawn’s revenge plot, absolutely no tears are shed when Jimmy is forced to gun down Danny.
The film begins to fare a bit better once Jimmy and Michael are on the run, despite the dire situation being completely ludicrous. Shawn sets it up to make it look like both Jimmy and Michael were responsible for the murders, which ends up making them “the most wanted men in the city.” Shawn even hires hitman Alexander Price, whose expert skills makes him seem like The Terminator, when though he kind of looks like Malcolm X. On the police side of things, Detective Harding has been after Jimmy for over twenty years and the events of this night are finally his chance to bring him down.
If there is one key scene to Run All Night, it involves Jimmy and Shawn meeting in a restaurant to discuss the situation. It is for these few minutes that the film truly becomes something worth watching, particularly since both Liam Neeson and Ed Harris are such good actors. It’s a shame that they weren’t in a film that wasn’t so generic. There almost isn’t any real suspense to Run All Night, since the film reveals how this night will end up in the opening minutes. While still ultimately an OK enough film, Run All Night doesn’t dissuade my opinion that Liam Neeson’s action phase has long since run its course.★ ★ ★ 1/2 | FAIR