Run All Night Review

The Plot:

Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.

The Good:

Since the astonishing and unexpected success of Taken, Liam Neeson has successfully transformed himself from a respected dramatic actor to one of the world most popular and bankable action stars. His towering physique and world weary yet likably gruff voice makes the 62 year old actor an implausibly credible killing machine.

Neeson’s innate charisma is almost all the film needs to carry off a fairly straightforward tale of underworld misdeeds and retribution. He even has enough on screen presence to spare that he can carry Joel Kinnaman as his son/obligatory sidekick.

The film is at its best and most watchable whenever Neeson is angry and busy efficiently dispatching bad guys for our viewing pleasure. Luckily the film doesn’t dwell on its family melodramas for too long without at least punctuating things with regular gunfire and action.

Though the film follows a simple and familiar action formula, it remains watchable and maintains a somewhat urgent momentum throughout.

The Bad:

Taken. Taken 2. The Grey. Unknown. Non-Stop. A Walk Among The Tombstones. Taken 3. This is a list of the number of times you’ve watched Liam Neeson ruthlessly kill bad guys in a vaguely justified manner in recent years. Now add Run All Night to that list of mostly diminishing returns. The novelty of watching Neeson reluctantly dispatching bad guys while dispensing gravel voiced action clichés is perhaps starting to wear just a little thin.

Once again Neeson plays a character haunted by past deeds, reluctantly pulled into a violent game of cat and mouse, which inevitably reveals his surprisingly violent skill set. However this time, instead of his usual backstory as a retired cop or government agent, Neeson is playing a former gangster hitman. His bitter self-loathing is a little less fun to watch and makes it slightly harder to see him as a typically heroic figure.

Neeson’s past action exploits have unfortunately become so familiar they’re now decidedly predictable. Run All night once again runs through his well-established formula. Sadly this includes genre clichés such as unlikely coincidences and an unnecessary sidekick. Much like Taken 2, Run All Night makes the mistake of teaming Neeson’s efficient one man army with his own actively unhelpful offspring.

As Conlan’s son Kinnaman contributes little to the film other than belligerently reminding Neeson and audiences that the unapologetic hitman was also a lousy father. Though his son is central to the plot device that pits Neeson’s hitman against his best friend and former mob boss, the screen time devoted to their broken relationship is always less entertaining than watching Neeson at work.

Ed Harris still has stage presence as gangster Shawn McGuire, but sadly he’s a little too old and two dimensional to make a truly menacing villain. Likewise Common plays a rival assassin who’s simply too consistently inept to feel like a real theat.

Overall Run All Night lacks the sense of fun that made Taken a fan favourite and satisfying guilty pleasure. Though it offers audiences plenty of cathartic guilt it takes itself a little too seriously at times. It also attempts to hide a very simple plot behind elaborate flourishes of fancy CGI aided camera moves. An obvious trick that’s never in any danger of succeeding.

The Ugly Truth:

Fans of the fast growing genre of ‘Liam Neeson kills things with guns and his bare hands’ will no doubt be pleased to welcome yet another title into their growing collection. Unfortunately others may begin to share Neeson’s trademark weariness. Run All Night is watchable and delivers some satisfying moments, but exclusively with thanks to Neeson’s action skills.

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