So I watched Run All Night…
I think (after Taken 3) Liam Neeson’s name on a movie poster has reached a point of diminishing return in my mind. I think he needs to do a romcom or a drama, just anything different from the never-ending action movies he’s currently mass producing. This particular movie isn’t even half bad but Neeson’s involvement forced me to avoid it for longer than I needed.
Okay, basic plot: Jimmy ‘The Gravedigger’ Conlon (Liam Neeson) is a former enforcer for the Irish mob. His years of heartless killing in service to the mob and it’s leader – Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) – have left him a broken man and driven him to alcoholism. This has had a horrible effect on his relationship with his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman). One night, Mike witnesses a murder committed by Shawn’s son, Danny. In an attempt to keep Mike from going to the cops, Danny sets out to murder him but Jimmy kills Danny before he can do so. Shawn now vows revenge against Jimmy and Mike and organises the entire mob and his contacts in the police to hunt the pair down. With time running out and the noose tightening, Jimmy and Mike must work through their dysfunctional relationship while doing their best to survive.
This movie is far better than I thought it would be. I was expecting a half-asleep Liam Neeson driven action movie but it’s a lot more than this. I don’t think this movie necessarily reaches its full potential but it does enough to entertain you. This is a movie about family. Shawn and Jimmy are like brothers who are forced to go to war against each other. This is interesting to see because even in moments where they’re trying to kill each other, there’s a real sense of camaraderie and friendship. This makes everything a little bit more impactful and allows the story to be more engaging. There’s also the family story between Jimmy and his own son. The two are estranged and this freak series of events forces them to reconnect. Now this family feel and the complicated relationships between characters does make the movie’s story more powerful; but only in the way that a spoon of sugar makes a weak cup of coffee more powerful.
This movie is lacking focus and this lack of focus makes all the good things it has going for it slightly worse. The movie feels scatter-brained at times and doesn’t give its most important characters enough focus. Just because the characters are on screen doesn’t mean they’re receiving the attention that they require. This movie needed to peel back the layers of its characters and expose their raw underbellies. Instead it lightly pokes and timidly probes, and fails to give us proper insight. This leads to the resolutions reached in the film feeling hollow. You can’t show me a character’s redemption but fail to adequately display the need for redemption. This movie would have functioned much better, in my opinion, if it had chosen to be a drama with a little bit of action instead of an action movie with sprinkles of drama.
Common has a cameo in this movie as an assassin hired by Shawn to kill Jimmy and his son. I felt his character was extremely unnecessary and Common’s portray of the supposedly steely hired-gun came off as wooden instead of metallic. The character’s inclusion worsened the movie through two ways: 1. It depersonalised the conflict between Shawn and Jimmy by adding a random agent and 2. It caused the movie to run ten minutes longer than it had to. This movie functions best when it focuses on Shawn and Jimmy, and I don’t understand why the screenwriters would want to add external agents to this potentially gripping conflict between two close friends.
Speaking of these two characters Ed Harris and Liam Neeson have great chemistry in this film. Their friendship, and the destruction thereof, is really the bedrock of this film. Look, neither actor is putting in a standout performance (especially Neeson) but the pair are actors of such a high quality that even their average performances are entertaining. Joel Kinnaman also does alright – neither fantastic nor horrible; he just skates in the middle.
Overall, Run All Night is an alright movie that never gets it together enough to be a good one. I think director, Jaume Collet-Serra needed to reign this film in more. It does have some cool moments as well as interesting scene transitions between different locations but it never lives up to its potential. There’s a great story buried in this film and I wish someone would make that into a movie, oh wait, somebody already did – that movie’s called Heat. Anyway, this movie is average – it’s not good enough to recommend or bad enough to discourage viewing. 6/10