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RUN ALL NIGHT
March 12, 2015
Liam Neeson is back in grizzled, aged action for director Jaume Collet-Serra in their third film together, following from previous efforts Unknown (2011) and Non-Stop (2014). Once again, we’re in classic action-thriller territory here, as Neeson runs from one tense shootout to another, via some of the requisite chase scenes.
The film is a mostly prosaic affair, but competently assembled. Neeson is the guilt-ridden, drunken former hitman Jimmy Conlon, still dependent on his old mob boss and friend Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). A drug deal gone wrong leads to conflict between the two men’s sons though, and Jimmy finds himself on the run (all night) with his distant son Michael (Joel Kinnaman).
It’s a finely put together cast, rounded out by a great turn from Vincent D’Onofrio as New York’s one good (and sadly underused) cop. If you’ve seen any of Neeson’s recent efforts you’ll know what to expect here, as he growls his way through a script punctuated by gunshots, though he brings some unexpected black comedy to early scenes in a drunken stupor, a lightness which might have been welcome later on in proceedings too. Ed Harris does his best to inject emotional conflict into a character left underdeveloped by the script, while Kinnaman is left with little to do all film other than look angry and punch things.
The script shows some signs of either confusion or multiple revisions, as characters ponder whether Neeson will choose to side with his son or his mob boss, even as other scenes make it clear that no such choice is available to him. It’s a shame – the conflict between old mob loyalties and family ties is fertile ground for drama, and an ill-advised flashback sequence gestures at dealing with it, but the bulk of the film moves too quickly to resolve the question in one direction.
Collet-Serra and cinematographer Martin Ruhe resist easy stylistic choices, instead opting for wildly kinetic camera, on the move almost as much as Jimmy himself. Digitally enhanced tracking shots swoop through the New York skyline and dart down subway trains to enhance the sense of place, but these and other directorial flourishes seem to get left by the wayside as the action ramps up for the finale. The score, by Dutch musician Junkie XL, is largely forgettable and occasionally frustratingly hackneyed.
Run All Night is unchallenging fare for the most part, but that needn’t be a problem. It knows what it is, and is content to simply do that as well as it can. For fans of Neeson’s action oeuvre, it will likely go down as one of the better entries, while for the rest of us, at least, it makes for an entertaining enough ride.
Run All Night is released in UK cinemas on March 13th