RUN ALL NIGHT (USA/15A/114mins)
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Starring Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Genesis Rodriguez, Nick Nolte.

THE PLOT: Having risen through the crime ranks side-by-side, Brooklyn blood brothers Shawn (Harris) and Jimmy (Neeson) go way back. And deep down. Jimmy was hired gun no.1 for Shawn as he became a crime boss, and he used that gun so well, Jimmy earned the nickname The Gravedigger. It’s late in the evening though, and this gun is all set to retire. If only just to convince his son, Mike (Kinnaman), that his old man is okay to have around his wife and kids. Before that happens though, Jimmy finds himself having to save Mike’s life when Shawn’s headstrong son Danny (Holbrook) pulls a gun on him, the battle to the death is set in motion…

THE VERDICT: Okay, no sniggering down the back, but, I was way off the mark when I sounded the death knell for the recent TAKEN outing from the surly, burly Mr. Neeson, believing that the joke of Hollywood’s favourite jolly green giant becoming the new Rainier Wolfcastle was no longer funny. But then TAKEN 3 opened to huge numbers in the US shortly afterwards. It also opened to quite a few groans, not only from the critics but cinema-goers too. Just how long can Neeson run with this Chuck Norris routine though remains to be seen.

And given that RUN ALL NIGHT shares quite a lot of DNA with last year’s retro actioner WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES doesn’t bode well for Neeson. TOMBSTONES did bomb, suggesting it’s not so much the star as the vehicle he’s driving. Which is all just business talk, of course, but that does seem to be what Neeson is all about these days; taking care of business, by taking care of business. Again and again. And again.

Reuniting here with his NON-STOP director, sure, Neeson’s got every right to sink deep into this B-movie genre with his A-movie talent, but the payoff has become so familiar, so predictable, that it’s hard to get truly excited whenever Liam’s latest character goes on his expected roaring rampage of revenge. For pretty much the entire movie.

What you’re left with is a rattler of an actioner that, on a Tuesday night on TV, will certainly go down a treat with some cans and a half a packet of chocolate Hobnobs. Anyone brave enough to tell Neeson he should go back to acting…?

Review by Paul Byrne

Run All Night
Review by Paul Byrne
2.0Familiar & Predictable
  • filmbuff2011

    Liam Neeson in action man mode? Check. Being chased by the police? Check. Plot involving him protecting family members? Check. But while Run All Night might seem like a Taken clone from its trailer, it’s got more in common with Michael Mann’s masterpiece Heat. Set in the Irish-American community in New York, Jimmy (Neeson) and Shawn (Ed Harris) are reliable lifelong friends who look out for each other. Jimmy has a dark reputation as being a shoot-first, ask questions later guy. After years in the crime scene, Shawn has gone straight by turning into a businessman. But their sons will drive this friendship to breaking point. When Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses a murder by Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook), Jimmy takes out Danny in order to protect his son. The sins of the sons will now be visited on the fathers. Jimmy goes on the run with Mike for one long night, pursued by veteran Detective Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio)… Working with Neeson for the third time, director Jaume Collet-Serra’s film is a slick, well-produced urban crime thriller that borrows liberally from Heat. You can almost imagine screenwriter Brad Ingelsby looking at the poster for Heat while typing away in Final Draft. There’s even a civilised restaurant face-off between Jimmy and Shawn, as they lay it on the line to each other about the lengths they’ll go to in order to resolve the situation. There are car chases and cat-and-mouse scenes galore, all of which keep the plot running smoothly. Inevitably, it can’t quite compare to Heat – Kinnaman and Holbrook are no match for Neeson and Harris, both of whom burn up the screen and reduce all other performances to one note. The ending is already signposted in advance by letting us see it at the front of the film. Though, maybe that’s just a tip of Collet-Serra’s hat to another Pacino film, Carlito’s Way. Run All Night is far from perfect, but it’s a generally solid, serviceable thriller. Walk, don’t run, to see it in the cinema. ***

  • emerb

    Liam Neeson is back
    with a bang for more of the same! The “Taken” films have rightly positioned him as the action movie heavyweight of Hollywood but his partnership with director Jaume Collet-Serra is arguably far more effective and creative (Unknown, Non-Stop). They reunite here for “Run All Night”, a film that proves the director knows exactly how to work with Neeson and for me it is their most satisfying action thriller to date.

    Neeson is Jimmy Conlon, a 62 year old world-weary wreck of an Irish alcoholic who has fallen on hard times, now without friends of family. He used to be a fearsome Brooklyn hitman (nicknamed “The Gravedigger”), working for mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) but now has to resort to begging for money and performing humiliating favours for Shawn’s spoiled and ruthless son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook) who gets him to play a very bad Santa at his party. Meanwhile, he is estranged from his lone son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) who works as a limousine driver and wants nothing to do with a life of crime. All explodes on the
    evening Mike witnesses the reckless and hot headed Danny killing an Albanian
    heroin dealer. Danny goes to Mike’s house to murder him but Jimmy is forced to intervene and kills Danny to save Mike. This has the immediate effect of Jimmy cutting all ties with his employer as the grief stricken Shawn is obliged to hunt him down and insists that, for the sake of revenge, Jimmy must live long enough to see Mike get killed first. The estranged father and son are forced to renew ties and go on the run for one very long night through New York City in order to protect his pregnant wife and two daughters. They must stay one step ahead of Shawn, a cop – Detective John Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio) who’s been trying to nail Jimmy for 30 years and Shawn’s callous hitman Price (Common). What follows is an adrenaline fuelled and dogged pursuit across New York featuring a series of high octane car chases through the streets of Brooklyn, dodging of bullets, pointed guns, angry threats, explosions, mad dashes down alleys, contract killers and crooked cops – you get the gist and it’s a whole lot of fun!

    Neeson is by now one of the most consistently reliable, rugged yet tough action heroes out there and “Run All Night” proves no exception. Here he is given the task of conveying what a failure Jimmy has become and how he is forced to struggle with his demons and try to re-establish a link with his son. As he has
    been in the game so long, he can still competently take down the enemies, outwit the killers and protect those he loves, no matter what the consequences. It’s a tricky role to get right but Neeson handles it skillfully and admirably. His Jimmy is effortlessly cool and capable – you just can’t help but like him, despite what he does. Neeson is not just another tough guy but an actor with real presence. Together with Ed Harris, their solid performances ground the movie. They paint a rich portrait of a long friendship now turned into a brutal rivalry and, for me, the best scenes take place when the two of them are together. Despite growing up in a mafia/criminal life, there is a strong familial bond between them which allows for some emotional and touching moments and it’s interesting to watch their relationship move from respect and friendship to animosity. Kinnaman holds his own as the more vulnerable Mike who is forced to resort to violence but he is
    an unwilling participant and Jimmy is determined to keep it that way so that his son never knows the agony of taking a life. Both Kinnaman and Neeson do a good job with the difficult father-son relationship theme which is often rehashed carelessly.

    “Run All Night” is a smartly constructed, gritty action thriller which I really enjoyed. It does exactly what it says on the tin and successfully merges big action set pieces with more touching moments. Admittedly, there isn’t much new
    here but what distinguishes this and makes it feel fresh is that the cast work well together and the plot moves forward at a nice brisk pace, with elaborate set pieces that work well to keep you engaged and entertained. The charismatic Liam Neeson is immensely watchable and if you fancy a film with a high body count, plenty of bullets and some riveting action then “Run All Night” is a cut above the rest and definitely well worth watching. The big question is, where to next for Neeson? Surely not Taken 4…..