It’s time once again for Liam Neeson’s quarterly action movie. While an aging Neeson revitalized the older action star genre, which many others from Denzel Washington, Pierce Brosnan and others have followed, it’s still Neeson that holds the crown and he won’t let anyone forget it.
Neeson has played a concerned father with an alcohol problem before, yet Run All Night takes the familiar plot setup a little further.
Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is nothing more than a washed up former goon for organized crime leader, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). These two have a long history and Conlon relies on Maguire’s family to finance his drinking habits. Conlon’s estranged son (Joel Kinnaman) inadvertently witnesses Maguire’s son (Boyd Holbrook) commit murder. The younger Conlon immediately has a target on his back, and Conlon ends up killing Maguire’s son to save his own.
While Neeson’s typical action movies tend to blend together, Run All Night starts off differently and has a lot of promise. Based on how down in the dumps his character for the first half of the movie, you wouldn’t expect him to be an unstoppable vigilante. There were a few scenes between Ed Harris and Neeson that are memorable. If the movie revolved around the two of them, rather than goons chasing down Conlon and his son, it would have stood out.
It isn’t until the second half that I lost interest. The action is cut so quickly, in an effort to make Neeson seem tough no doubt, that you can’t tell what is happening. For instance, a car chase takes place and seems to have some promise, but just turns into a blur of collisions.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra has previously worked with Neeson in Non-Stop and Unknown. He is a competent filmmaker, but doesn’t attempt to create a movie that is beyond average. He and Neeson work well together, and he’s a far better filmmaker than Olivier Megaton, who directed the Taken sequels. But, there is a thick line between ‘good enough’ and ‘great.’
The best plot of the movie, which is only referred to a few times, is between Jimmy Conlon and the detective who wants him to admit to the crimes of his past. This detective, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, is one of the few clean cops in the city. Once again, had the movie shown the central angle between Harris, Neeson and D’Onofrio, it would have made for a better experience.
Instead, we get a strange last minute subplot about Conlon’s brother (played by Nick Nolte). Also, Common, who plays the seeming “best hitman on the planet,” pursues the two Conlons. Fortunately for the runaways, he is the worst hitman ever.
Run All Night doesn’t blend in the with the drawn-out Taken series. It’s a better movie than both 2aken and Tak3n. Recently, Neeson has said that he’ll be in action movies for two more years. I believe that’s a very good thing. It’s time for him to act again. C