Review: Run All Night – Liam Neeson saving his family again

run all night

By Arvin Santiago

Liam Neeson is back on the big screen doing what he does best, kicking ass and taking names, in the non-stop action thriller (I say that lightly) Run All Night.

Run All Night marks the third time Liam Neeson has starred in a film directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop). This time around Liam Neeson stars as Jimmy Conlon, an aging hitman whose past is beginning to weigh heavily on his shoulders. Jimmy is estranged from his only son Mike (Joel Kinnaman). He suffers from haunted dreams and restless nights.  The only thing that Conlon has going for him in his sad and miserable life is staying loyal to his best friend, Shawn Maguire (played by Ed Harris), a notorious mob boss in one of the Burroughs of New York.

On one fateful night, the sons of Jimmy and Shawn cross paths, when Mike witnesses Danny Maguire (Boyd Holbrook) executing an Albanian drug dealer. When Danny sets out to clean up his mess by killing Mike, Jimmy protects his son by shooting Danny.  Now Shawn wants his old friend to pay, and that of course is the death of Mike. It’s going to be a long night for Jimmy as he sets out to figure out how to keep his son safe from Shawn’s henchmen, all while hoping to repair his damaged relationship with his son.

run all night liam neeson

Now we’ve seen Liam Neeson play this character before. You know, the terrible father who thinks that a trail of bullets and broken bones can repair his relationship with his family, and for some odd reason it works out for him after a grueling 90 minutes.  But this time around, it’s a little different for Liam Neeson… wait, no it isn’t. The only thing that separates this movie from the rest of his latest string of action flicks is that Ed Harris joins him on the big screen.

Typically one would think that when two veteran actors, both who are known for some outstanding films, finally meet on the big screen, fireworks would happen, but that’s not the case here. This tired and recycled plot does little to really showcase the range that these two actors are capable of… well, actually Ed Harris did seem to give a little bit more effort in his role. There’s one scene halfway through the movie where the two finally meet after the death of Danny, where you can sit back, and nod your head in agreement, that if Ed Harris didn’t choose to be an actor, he can surely have boisterous career as a mob boss.

At first glance Run All Night seemed to be an action movie that didn’t rely much on the action, but instead replacing it with a more character driven story. But as the movie progresses the scales begin to tip in favor of action. The action itself wasn’t bad, but at the same time wasn’t anything to talk about. You have your unrealistic car chase in the streets of New York, well-choreographed fight scenes that were given an extra boost of flair with shaky camera movements and quick edit cuts, and of course guns.

It’s hard for me to really enjoy Run All Night. You can’t sit at the edge of your seat rooting for the good guy, because you can’t just root for the characters and most of them are bad guys. Liam Neeson is supposedly the “good guy” just for the sake of reasoning that he’s trying to save his son, a son that he abandoned a long time ago. Yes maybe his reasoning is that by walking out he was protecting his kid, giving him a better life than what he had, but come on… Liam Neeson’s character was a hitman. He killed people for a living and has no other redeeming values. So no, you can’t really root for him in this movie. The only character that I could say you feel slightly bad for is Joel Kinnaman’s character, but his on-screen presence wasn’t engaging or convincing enough for you to really care.

Another thing that really threw the film off for me was the transitional editing that takes place in certain times of the film. Run All Night is supposed to be a fast-paced action thriller, and they try to highlight that by leading you from one scene to another with a sweep across the Burroughs of New York. But seeing that only made me laugh, for it was reminiscent of the same way Grand Theft Auto V transitioned the player from one character to the next.

It’s not all negatives for Run All Night. The cinematography was done really well, giving you a real feel of the grittiness of New York’s underground. Like the title says, the movie primarily takes place at night, which is captured beautifully with just the right amount of lighting and noise on the screen.

In closing, if you are a fan of Liam Neeson and all his glory of kick-assery, then Run All Night is definitely your movie. If it’s not, then I would recommend that you don’t “Run” to see this movie. And if you’re really hard up to see a Liam Neeson movie about him saving a member of his family, then I suggest you watch ‘Taken’ again, because if I wanted to see Liam Neeson shoot a bunch of people to save someone, I’d rather do it watching someone I would enjoy looking at. We’re looking at your direction, Maggie Grace.

 Rating: 2.5/5 Atoms

NR 2_5 Atoms - C-

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