Liam Neeson as the weathered, beaten-down anti-hero of sorts is nothing new. Since 2010 alone he has starred in at least ten different action oriented films. So at this point a movie starring Neeson as the only man for the job is at times a bit too familiar although not altogether unwanted. To elevate this routine plotline from tired to at the very least viably entertaining you need to change certain aspects as a way to shake things up. Points A and B can be the same but the journey between has to be dissimilar. Most of his films lately haven’t exactly striven for diversity but one or two of them have at the very least tried something else. I can happily say that Run All Night is one of those films that at least attempts the effort. In fact there are actual moments of legitimate story oriented conversations between characters. These moments have an actual purpose of propelling the story forward to a hopefully logical conclusion.
Unfortunately for the film its biggest draw is also its biggest downfall; Liam Neeson is the hero. Despite the more refreshing scenes (it has its share) it still falters from typical action plot points that seem to infest every film he’s in. No one can equal his machismo; no one can defend against his impenetrable fighting abilities. He has a sketchy past but finds a way to overcome it and to right his wrongs. He ascends from gutter scum to a saint worthy of angel wings. Run All Night uses this to its advantage at times but it can’t completely overcome the usual tropes that inevitably drag it down. Despite its faults though it manages to bring gritty, dramatic and at times stylish entertainment to an otherwise dried up well. This is nothing all that special but for fans of Neeson and his ass kicking ways, this is sufficient (sufficiently better than Taken 2 or 3 that is).
Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is a useless drunk. He takes and takes until there is nothing left. His family wants nothing to do with him and any work he gets is given out of pity. His longtime employer and friend Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) has never forgotten what Jimmy has done for him and so even after everyone has left Jimmy in their rear view, Shawn keeps him close. He throws Jimmy work when he can and worries over him as if he were his own blood. It would seem their bond is unbreakable. Only one incident could divide them and regrettably that one event is upon them. Jimmy’s estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) finds himself in a precarious situation involving Shawn’s son, Danny. Danny knows he is the inevitable heir to his father’s empire and feels it is his place to inflict his own ruling. When Mike sees Danny doing a no-no, Danny chases after Mike to eliminate any witnesses from talking. In a chaotic scene, Jimmy intervenes and is forced to put Danny down, permanently. The unbreakable bond is now shattered and violence begins to reign. In a single night of frenetic bedlam, everyone may just face a bullet with their name on it.
If the new Cinderella film isn’t exactly your cup of tea then I would consider Run All Night a viable alternative. It won’t really blow your hair back but it will earn its ticket price. Liam Neeson kicks ass and saves the day. Ed Harris is a worthy adversary who creates a great deal of menace for the heroes. The fancy camera work may make you dizzy at times but it does make for interesting transitions from scene to scene. Overall this is a fun, adult action flick that only aims to entertain even if forgotten shortly after the credits run. See it for the action and appreciate the slower, more tender moments because those are the scenes that really raise this to something better than awful.
Rated R For: strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use
Run Time: 114 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent D’Onofrio
Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3.5/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
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