Surfing the success of the ‘Taken’ franchise, ‘Run All Night’ again features Liam Neeson as a father whose child is in trouble. This results in many people getting shot. Cops and mobsters are involved too. Sound familiar?
‘Run All Night’ features Neeson as Jimmy, a former mob hitman whose best friend Shawn (Ed Harris) runs the organisation. They’ve grown up together, and have a bond as strong as brothers. When Jimmy’s estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) sees Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) commit murder, Jimmy must kill Danny to protect Mike. What follows is a three-way race between Jimmy and Mike, Shawn and his goons, and the police. Shawn wants to kill Mike to hurt Jimmy, the police want to catch Jimmy for his past crimes and for recently killing their own, and Mike wants to stay alive for his wife and kids. What Jimmy apparently wants is to keep alive a son who hates him to somehow find a way back into his life.
Mobsters and crooked cops, family vendettas, the sins of the father – any of these aspects could have become the focus of the narrative, however, instead we’re presented with a confused and distracted story about all of them. Any moral message is handled poorly, with the only real attempt being Jimmy refusing to allow Mike to kill anyone. The film is full of action movie clichés, including one of my pet hates: “Let’s not tell the women anything, because we want to protect them.” This always comes across as patronising and sexist, and in a cast where the only female characters are minor, and nothing more than plot devices, it’s a little insulting too.
Neeson and Harris’ performances are on par, while the rest of the cast struggles. Even Neeson himself is starting to look a bit tired of the middle-aged action hero gig, and for a brief moment I was wondering if perhaps he should give it up. Common’s appearance as Shawn’s new hit man is particularly noteworthy, for all the wrong reasons: the character could have been played by a cardboard cut-out, and I doubt anyone would have noticed the difference. Relationships between the characters were stilted, with even Jimmy and Shawn’s old friendship being less than believable. The relationship between Jimmy and Vincent D'Onofrio’s Detective Harding could also have been an interesting story, but this was overlooked too, in favour of Harding being just another aspect of an unfocused plot.
Relationships between the characters were stilted, with even Jimmy and Shawn’s old friendship being less than believable.
The only interesting feature of ‘Run All Night’ is the scene transitions, using an extreme pull-back-and-in shot from one section of the city to another to follow the character's progress. However, even this has been done before, and to better effect. Again, it felt like it had been thrown in there in a last-bid attempt to make this movie somehow different or special. It’s not a success.
None of the facets of this film are fleshed out enough to give the audience anything to chew on. Elements of classic mobster movies are peppered about, but failed to add much flavour. Everything from the writing, to the premise, to the soundtrack is superficial and feels watered down. I spent the majority of the film waiting for something to actually happen, for it to hit its stride, but then it was over, never really getting up to speed.
If you’ve been missing ‘Taken’ since its conclusion, and need a little more violent Liam in your life, ‘Run All Night’ will fill that gap. However, if you’re expecting quality cinema, you're better off looking elsewhere.