The 400-Word Review: Run All Night
By Sean Collier
March 19, 2015
It seems that there is no man audiences are more eager to watch navigate a dire situation than Liam Neeson. In the last year or so, the Irish actor has been made to put everything on the line in four films: Non-Stop, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Taken 3 and this weekend’s entry in the Neeson action collection, Run All Night.
During that timeframe, he also parodied himself and his gruff-guy-with-a-great-voice persona twice, in The LEGO Movie and A Million Ways to Die in the West.
At this point, he’s his own cinematic universe — in spite of the fact that no one can really pinpoint why. Neeson is an above-average actor with a clear charm and a dynamic (and thoroughly imitable) voice. When it comes to action films, though, he’s no more qualified than any other 60-year-old leading man — and yet has been molded into a punch-throwing, gun-toting force of nature on the silver screen. We’re not going to be able to define it, so we might as well just roll with it.
Here, he’s washed-up thug Jimmy Conlon, kept on the payroll by boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) as a favor. Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) wants nothing to do with his lowlife dad and supports his family as a limo driver. Mike just so happens to take a fare from two European mobsters looking for cash from Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook), who responds to the request by killing the toughs in full view of Mike. Danny wants to keep Mike quiet, Mike wants to stay alive, Jimmy tries to sort things out, yada yada yada, Jimmy and Mike have to re-bond while escaping vengeance.
On the one hand, some of the parts here are above reproach; that’s a pretty fair cast list (bolstered by Vincent D’Onofrio as a clean cop and Common as an expert hitman), and a handful of the action sequences get the job done. Director Jaume Collet-Serra — firmly entrenched in the Neeson industry, having helmed Non-Stop and 2011’s Unknown — doesn’t add much, but doesn’t hurt anything either.
Unfortunately, the merits of Run All Night are counteracted by the clunky, artless story, which can neither establish a convincing relationship nor propel itself forward without gaps in logic (like a ten-member criminal enterprise holding sway over the entire NYPD). In the end, it’s just the Neeson show. Apparently, that’s all audiences want.
My Rating: 5/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark