Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman
By now you’d have thought that every criminal affiliated with Liam Neeson would know better than to target him and his family. However, where the Albanian mafia failed in the Taken series, mob boss Shawn Maguire, played menacingly by Ed Harris, decides it’s about time to ‘rub out’ this smug action hero once and for all.
Aside from the fact that he was once a Jedi, Neeson knows that a hit on him isn’t going to be easy for a criminal organisation to execute. And he even mocks this fact, as for the first time in any Liam Neeson movie, he sets himself a deadline – the end of the night – by which he must take down every single person out for him. And in the case of Run All Night it transpires that every single person is essentially the majority of New York.
An unfortunate sequence sees Liam’s character, Jimmy Conlon, save his son from getting shot by Maguire’s own more obnoxious crack-head of a son, at the expense of capping Shawn junior instead. This unlucky predicament leads to an awkward call back to mob-boss Maguire, where Jimmy tries to put into words that he’s basically just had to kill Maguire’s only son. You can imagine how that goes down, and so Maguire makes it his life mission to ensure Jimmy pays the ultimate price for his betrayal to the family (mob family that is).
In classic Neeson style, the film never fails to impress on the action front. High-speed chases, mass murder, crime, corruption, a helluva lot of fisticuffs, and even penis jokes – an effective new addition to the growing list of motifs used by the 62-year-old super-dad – makes for a genuinely fun, gritty and well-paced spiritual successor to the Taken franchise, and all the other ones.
A clever and effective twist in the use of ‘dirty’ cops, which harks back to the days of film noir, becomes an interesting narrative development. Much the same as those paradoxical Chuck Norris jokes, a scene in which Liam Neeson is chasing the cops rather than the other way around, provides one of the best action set-pieces in the film.
Also puzzling is how investable Jimmy’s character is. Except for the fact that he’s a family man, more and more of his obnoxious character is unveiled as the drama goes on. He’s a drunk, woman-objectifying, cop-killing crook, who has outcast his only son and killed his own cousin. And here I am saying he’s a family man.
But that is truly the type of pull you get from Neeson – you root for him no matter what. Whether it’s just his Irish charm or his genuine brilliance at acting such a clichéd role, Liam owns the lead role in his naturally cool and gruff way. It’s also partly down to the fact that the script is handled very well by up-and-coming writer Brad Ingelsby, with a variety of well-developed characters and a dark tone reminiscent of both classic and more modern gangster movies – Ed Harris clearly loves his antagonising role as Maguire, and plays the part viciously.
Run All Night is a successful twist of crime, drama and noir. It doesn’t sound like the most original mix, but the story and skilful direction makes these conventionally similar genres as polarising and stylistic as possible, and it works to great effect. The acting is also impressive, with Neeson and Harris fighting for control not only within the movie but also over the award for most badass OAP. Boyd Holbrook plays his minimal part excellently as Maguire’s hateful son Danny, and everyone’s favourite officer from the US version of The Killing, Joel Kinnaman, also does a noteworthy job as Jimmy’s son Mike. The cast and excellent level of production ensures that this latest shoot ‘em up is a respectable entry into an increasingly saturated genre. How much longer does Neeson have in him? Taken 4 anyone?!