After the disastrous Taken 3 earlier this year, Liam Neeson is back for his third collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Sera with Run All Night, which, while not the best movie in Neeson’s action renaissance, is still solid.
Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a mob hitman who has become a drunken wreck because of the guilt from all the men he’s killed over the years. His son Michael (Joel Kinnaman), has had nothing to do with his father and is trying to live a decent life by driving a limo but during his most recent job, he witnesses the son of Jimmy’s boss, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), kill some Albanian gangsters and Jimmy eventually has to kill Danny to save Michael, putting both Conlons in the crosshairs of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). The closest comparison to Run All Night would probably be something like Running Scared, as Jimmy and Michael make their way through New York City trying to avoid the various thugs sent by Shawn. There’s some interesting character bits thrown in, like the fact that Shawn and Jimmy are best friends and they even have a Heat style sit down about halfway through and the fact that Jimmy constantly prevents Michael from killing people, to stop him from becoming like him. The plot runs a little too long and has an ending that feels like it was tacked on just to get a slow motion money shot for the trailer.
Neeson’s Jimmy starts out in the most pathetic and lowest point for any recent Neeson hero, causing a scene at a Christmas party as a Santa and trying to borrow money to fix the heater for his crappy apartment. Once things start going south, he almost immediately switches into efficient killing machine and any flaws are pretty much forgotten. Kinnaman is solid but is kind of one note in his disdain for his father. Ed Harris is great as usual and he and Neeson’s relationship is definitely one of the most interesting things in the movie. You can feel their history and how much they regret having to go after each other but they have to. The one person who feels out of place is Common, who comes in as a hired assassin and feels like some sort of comic book villain like Deadshot, as he has a bizarre night vision eye piece and pistols with lasers for aiming. The rest of the movie has a kind of old school feel that doesn’t gel with Common’s high techness. There’s also a ton of character actors as well like Vincent D’Onofrio, Holt McCallany, Bruce McGill and more.
The action in Run All Night is solid but nothing mind blowing (but at least you can tell what is happening, unlike Taken 3). There’s a pretty good car chase and a tense sequence in a project apartment complex. Collet-Sera throws a little stylish flair into the scenes that aren’t action sequences, transitioning between scenes by flying across the city but there’s nothing up to the level of the way he used text messages in Non-Stop and overall Non-Stop, possibly because of it’s location and gimmick, is still probably the best of the three movies Neeson and Collet-Sera have done.
Run All Night is definitely the best Liam Neeson movie of the year but it’s probably in the mid-range of Neeson’s recent action catalog. If you want a great Neeson movie set in NYC, you should probably go watch A Walk Among the Tombstones first but Run All Night is still a solid action movie for Neeson fans.