Rating: 5 out of 10
Liam Neeson as Jimmy Conlon
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Retired Irish gang executioner Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is dragged back into that world when his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses a gangland murder by the son of big-time Brooklyn mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), forcing Jimmy and Mike to go on the run from Maguire, the Albanian mob and the New York police force.
For those who felt the gritty New York crime scene that barely exists anymore hasn’t been done to death in far better movies, here comes the third movie pairing Liam Neeson with Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Sera to prove that it’s a genre that needs to be retired for a while .
Maybe it’s just that Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman has ruined things for other action movies this year by being so good, but Run All Night reverts back to clichés that have permeated so many crime-based revenge thrillers over the years from the Irish mob within the Brooklyn setting to the dysfunctional relationship between father and son.
Granted, Jimmy Conlon is slightly different than the character Neeson has played so much in recent years, a broken man and an alcoholic down on his luck and having to rely on his old boss’ son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) to keep himself inebriated enough to forget he drove his son (Kinnaman) away with his choice in occupations. Before you can say “Boy, I hope no one takes his son!” that’s indeed what happens as corrupt police officers are sent to deal with Mike after he witnesses a drug-related murder, and Jimmy chases them through the streets of New York. After Shawn learns that his son Danny has been killed in a shootout, he sends his goons after them and brings in a hired assassin named Price (Common), who may offer more of a challenge for Jimmy’s “special skills.”
As much as one might hope there’s more to say within the crime genre, the unimpressive script by Brad Igelsby (Out of the Furnace) does little to make much of an impact, and the cast doesn’t do much to help. Neeson and Harris are perfectly fine, but Joel Kinnaman hasn’t proven himself as a leading man enough to carry his scenes without Neeson. Boyd Holbrook gives such a scenery-chewing performance as Shawn’s out of control son that you’re almost grateful he’s out of the picture early. Other actors like Nick Nolte and Genesis Rodriguez, one of the few women in the movie, are underused with very little to do and offering very little to service the story.
Collet-Serra is normally a decent director, but his desire to create a gritty and stylish film ends up backfiring as the flat color palette, wildly moving camerawork and excessive use of close-ups often makes it hard to figure out exactly what is going on in the action sequences. Visually, the film isn’t nearly as well-crafted as something like Pierre Morel’s The Gunman (opening next week) nor does it offer much in terms of originality or innovation to the genre. Sure, there are some decent moments, mostly the hand-to-hand combat scenes, as well as some solid dramatic moments between Neeson and Harris, but they only go so far to elevate what is generally a dull affair. The film’s score seems stale, almost canned, and adds little to the experience.
It’s also disconcerting that this is Neeson’s second movie that involves him either chasing or being chased by the police. It seems like poor timing, especially considering recent events in New York, to have corrupt cops who shoot first before determining whether someone is armed or not.
The chase takes them all over the city from Madison Square Garden during a Rangers game to the subway system and train yard, but Collet-Serra doesn’t use the city as well as a director who may more familiar with the realities of the city’s geography. Instead, he has camera shots that swing across the city trying to add some sort of excitement where there isn’t any.
To make matters worse, the film is overly long, stretched out to two hours with many scenes that feel like they could have been excised without losing anything in terms of the drama between Jimmy and his son.
The Bottom Line:
Maybe Run All Night would be more enjoyable if we hadn’t seen so many nearly identical films over the years and if it didn’t come so soon after Taken 3. Dramatically, it’s better than that clunker, but it doesn’t offer anything particularly memorable or lasting when it comes down to it.