Run All Night

UK Release Date 13th March 2015
Director Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring Neeson's Scowl
Runtime 114 Minutes
Certificate 15
Reviewer SI
Reviewed 23rd March 2015

Whilst trawling the internet for a couple of suitable images for this review of Liam Neeson’s latest old person with a gun saga, (or should that be Saga?) it occurred to me that the only way you can tell one still from another across his last half dozen films is by his jacket. The poses, the scowl, the gun, all the same. To illustrate this, I’m going to diverge from our usual review template and below I present the match Neeson’s jacket to the movie quiz. Below are six images, same pose, you have to match the image to the list of movies. Answers at the bottom of the review:

a.

a.

b.

b.

c.

c.

d.

d.

e.

e.

f.

f.

1. Taken / 2. Taken 2 / 3. Taken 3 / 4. Non-Stop / 5. The Lego Movie / 6. Run All Night

That was a nice change now, on with the review. You may have guessed that Run All Night, the latest from Unknown and Non-Stop director Jaume Collet-Serra, follows a particularly familiar route for everyone’s favourite grey killer. To be absolutely fair though, on this occasion, the movie does at least attempt to do something slightly different before spiralling into the usual Family in Peril shoot ‘em up we’re oh so familiar with.

Neeson this time plays Jimmy Conlon, an Irish American down-and-out who was once a top mob hit man for his old neighbourhood buddy Shawn Maguire. Since his wife expired though, old Jimmy hasn’t been doing so well and spends his time face down in Shawn’s aspiring mob son’s bar, occasionally regaining consciousness long enough to beg cash from said son for repairs to his heating. Maguire Jnr (Boyd Holbrook) has ideas of taking the family business back to its mob roots, the old man having ‘gone straight’ some years before. This doesn’t sit well with pops and one disastrous drug smuggling business meeting later, Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) and the local kid he’s mentoring at boxing are witnesses to the deaths of some particularly unpleasant Europeans. Maguire Jnr’s attempts to tidy this all up by doing away with Mike go south and you can probably guess who ends up in the frame. With BFF Macguire Snr and the entire Irish mob coming after him from one direction, the feds closing in from another and his son still hating him for a litany of bad parenting decisions, Jimmy is about to have a very long night….Oh, and Common pops up somewhere in all of this as the kind of lethal killer you get in these movies. Lethal right up to the point of doing away with an OAP hit man….

So let’s nail the good stuff first, because, despite my distractions above, this is in no way a terrible movie. It’s long past the point where it’s worth putting much effort into describing Neeson’s performance in these things, he is as scowly as ever and in this one, he really does come across as a broken man by the final reel - unlike the movies listed above, for once this is definitely a deserved descendancy for the killer at the heart of the movie. Kinnaman, last seen by me suspended as a detached head in the largely pointless remix of Robocop is a promising actor, I haven’t watched the American remake of The Killing but watching this movie makes me think it may well be worth a look. Here saddled with a fairly typical good father / husband / provider / down with the local kids boxing coach role, Kinnaman actually manages to bring some believable gravitas to proceedings. However contrived the scripting, he comes out of it well and the relationship or lack of between his Mike and the old man actually has some meaning. There isn’t much else cast wise beyond Ed Harris’ typically gravel voiced turn as Jimmy’s oldest friend / worst enemy. Women? Nope, you’re in the wrong movie for those - in summary, one crying because her drug dealing son just bought it, one running around scared because her husband is now brandishing a gun. Nothing else to see here, look at the boys fight!

In terms of plot, Run All Night again does well to start with. For the first third of the movie, I was completely convinced I’d misjudged this one on the way in and was castigating myself for that. If you look beyond the cliched nature of the characters, the movie does spend time establishing them as actual people, the central idea of betrayal between old friends and an innocent family being caught at the centre of the ensuing whirlwind is decent and it’s played well during the first half of the movie, nobody turns into an immortal avenging angel between getting into the car and arriving at their destination. The cinematography is grubby and muted and the whole thing evokes more thoughts of The Departed or Ben Affleck’s The Town, than it does of any of the movies mentioned above.

Once the gloves come off though, it’s anybody’s game. Shawn calls in the invincible killer mentioned above, the feds descend on the tower block that Jimmy and Mike are holed up in following a pretty impressive car chase and… well, you can probably imagine how this all goes. Before you know it you’ll be sat there, checking your watch as the movie ticks past the ninety minute mark, thinking ‘wait, he didn’t get killed did he….oh, right….’

In Short:

I don’t want to be too down on Run All Night, let’s face it, if you walked past the poster for this one and bought the ticket, you’re going to have certain expectations and given those expectations, this is actually an impressive bit of work.  A decent tale examining old feuds, festering resentment and the inability to escape a past that you’ve essentially cheated your way out of facing, it’s ultimately brought down by having to resort to expansive shootouts and the unedifying spectacle of an old man speed limping away from the combined forces of the FBI and the Irish mafia. An ending that flirts with redemption but wisely suggests that not everything can be redeemed just about keeps the whole thing hanging together. 

Quiz Answers:

a. Taken 2 / b. Run All Night / c. Taken / d. The Lego Movie / e. Non-Stop / f. Taken 3

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