Liam Neeson and Ed Harris Elevate Run All Night
Run All Night
Review by Daniel Rester
Next to The Grey (2012), Run All Night ranks among the better Liam Neeson action vehicles since the actor reinvented his career with the first Taken back in 2009. Now if only we could forget about those awful Taken sequels and get more films like this.
Run All Night – directed by frequent Neeson collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra and written by Brad Ingelsby – is a small piece of thrilling pulp fiction revolving around has-been criminal Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) and his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman). Jimmy’s a drunken mess whose only friend is his former boss, Shawn (Ed Harris), a gangster with certain morals. Mike on the other hand is trying to live a normal life with his family and stay far away from the going-ons of Jimmy and Shawn.
After a drug deal involving Shawn’s culpable son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) goes wrong, limo driver Mike is left as a murder witness and dragged into a clutter of criminal activity. His only hope is Jimmy, who tries to work everything out in one night so as to keep himself, Mike, and Mike’s family alive. The two must not only evade Shawn but also a determined detective named Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio) on Jimmy’s case and a skillful assassin named Andrew Price (rapper-turned-actor Common).
Ingelsby’s screenplay is fairly rote when it comes to the main gangsters-and-their-sons ingredients in Run All Night, but the writer adds a good amount of backstory and traits to each character to make them at least moderately interesting. He also lays in a few twists that work well and don’t derail the story momentum. The dialogue is unintentionally silly at times as the various men discuss morals, death, forgiveness, and more, but most of the time it is functional and is even occasionally excellent.
What elevates Run All Night slightly above the average crop is the playing field of actors and the skillful director leading them. Neeson and Harris bring a palpable chemistry and believability to their characters; one scene in a restaurant between them finds the actors boiling up some top-notch suspense. Kinnaman – who was the lead in last year’s Robocop – is pretty decent here but comes off as flat on occasion.
As for the supporting cast, Holbrook leaves his mark in a small but juicy part while D’Onofrio plays a standard detective and Common almost hams it up as Price. Nick Nolte also pops up in thankless role involving a needless subplot that flaws the film slightly.
Director Collet-Serra is adept at being able to put on a presentation for material that might otherwise be less successful in other hands. He understands that the tension between characters is more important than the action itself, though the action scenes are handled expertly as well.
Cinematographer Martin Ruhe maneuvers the camera in ways that are swift but coherent, aiding Collet-Serra in capturing the grittiness of the NYC locations and the violence on display. Aside from some distracting fly-through-the-city transitions, the look of the film is fine for the story at hand and refreshingly uses little CGI. One particular car chase is especially well-handled by Collet-Serra and his team, with a fun switcheroo used.
Run All Night uses some well-worn story ideas but crafts them in fresh enough ways in order to keep things engaging. It’s not an exceptional film, but the game cast and filmmaking style make it an entertaining and above-average one for its type. And it’s definitely one I would re-watch over the Taken sequels any day.
My Score: 3 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: B).
Viewing Recommendation: Skip It, Wait for Cable, Wait for Blu-ray Rental or See It at Matinee Price, Worth Full-Price Ticket
MPAA Rating: R (for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use).
Runtime: 1 hour and 54 minutes.
U.S. Release Date: March 13th, 2015.