Movie Review - Run All Night

Liam Neeson (left) and Joel Kinnaman
in "Run All Night"
An action film that pairs an older man with a younger man isn't new, and this film pairs Liam Neeson, continuing his middle-age to borderline, senior citizen, martial arts and gun-play renaissance with Joel Kinnaman, the tall, Swedish hunk from Robocop. Yet, the movie never balances the two. Kinnaman is less a partner in the action. He's essentially the damsel-in-distress. It's not like Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney in A Good Day to Die Hard. It's more like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2.

Jaume Collet-Serra directed Neeson in two previous films, Unknown and Non-Stop. He also directs this film, and the final action beat is the same as the penultimate action beat in Non-Stop, and that beat is showing in slow-motion how great and precise a marksman Neeson's character is. The deficit in Non-Stop is a bit more ridiculous, that of a turbulent plane. The deficit here needlessly draws out tension, only to quickly undercut it.

The film is comparable to two films just last year. Denzel Washington in The Equalizer and Keanu Reeves in John Wick both have similar plots and scenarios as here. It's almost unavoidable as all three movies deal with mobsters and/or their hitmen, the deaths of loved ones and unassailable vengeance.

The relationship between Neeson who plays Jimmy Conlon, a former mob enforcer, and Kinnaman who plays Michael Conlon, the estranged son who lives in Queens, New York, and works odd jobs like training at a boxing gym or driving a limousine, are at the core of this film's heart. Michael knows that his dad is a killer, so he wants nothing to do with Jimmy, even though it's less his dad being a killer and more that Jimmy has purposefully stayed out of Michael's life for various reasons.

Key among those reasons is that Jimmy does not want Michael to turn into him. When Michael accidentally gets pulled into a mob situation, forcing local mobster and Jimmy's old boss, Shawn Maguire, played by Ed Harris, to put a hit out on Michael, Jimmy has to do what he can to protect Michael and Michael's wife and children.

As an action film, the true judgment is of the action scenes. Unlike The Equalizer and John Wick, the action scenes here work better because the protagonist's investment feels more solid. In John Wick, the protagonist launches a city-wide assault based on a dead dog, and, in The Equalizer, the protagonist goes above and beyond over some random prostitute he didn't even know. At least here, Jimmy unleashes holy Hell because his son is threatened. That makes much more sense.

The first action scene is a car chase involving a 80's Chevy Camaro. It's interesting in that in most car chases a cop car or more would be pursuing some muscle car at break-neck speeds. Here, it's the muscle car pursuing the cop car.

The hand-to-hand combats aren't all that impressive, aside from one that pits Neeson against rapper and newest Oscar-nominee Common who plays Andrew Price, a well-trained assassin sent to kill Michael. It was impressive for the props and special effects employed. Neeson and Common fight in a seemingly burning room. Common's character behaves like a super villain, continuing to fight despite suffering debilitating burns.

The final confrontation between Neeson and Harris' characters is a little lackluster if not anticlimactic. It's a similar criticism to John Wick. That, and Harris' character just doesn't seem smart. Instead of Shawn telling Jimmy that he's going to kill Michael, why not lie and say he's not, thus giving Jimmy a false sense of security? When Jimmy is coming after Shawn, Shawn has a camera that shows him where Jimmy is before he gets there, yet instead of just shooting him right as he walks through the door, Shawn runs lending to a pointless foot-chase.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 54 mins.


  1. Neeson is quickly becoming typecast following myriad recent interpretations of complicated characters fighting their own demons in order to reach some kind of validation or even salvation from a past always a heartbeat away from their present


Post a Comment

Popular Posts