I have to admit, when I first saw the trailer for Run All Night I did do a bit of a sigh and an eye-roll. Straight on the heels of the Taken series, Run All Night is, yes, yet another film starring Liam Neeson in an action packed chase across The City (in this case Brooklyn) while evading baddies trying to kill him (and his son). I suspected that there would be a strong sense of “I have seen all of this before” to the whole film, and in a sense, I was right. That said, it would be wrong to write off Run All Night as “yet another” action flick starring Liam Neeson as that would be overlooking the fact that the film really tries – and succeeds – in doing some original stuff with the script as well.
So, as it is the custom, let’s have a quick re-cap of the story. Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is a mob hitman. He works for Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) who is also his childhood friend and has done many, many things he regrets. His only son, Mike, is completely estranged from him – and is gaining an honest living as a limousine driver – and Jimmy is eaten up by regrets and nightmares of his violent youth. However, one split-second decision brings him on a head-on collision with Shawn when Mike becomes a target for the mob. This may be the last chance Jimmy has to be a father to Mike and protect him and he is ready to take on the world in the process. What follows is an action packed couple of hours with several high-speed chases and beautifully choreographed fights. And I have to take my hat off to director Jaume Collet-Serra who not only beautifully executes all the stuff we basically go to action films for but also adds in a few very aesthetically pleasing technical twists. The story unfolds over the course of a single night and background information (like a hockey game that we see at different stages in different scenes throughout the beginning of the evening) are used to enforce this time limitation. On this level, it is definitely just the right amount of “twist” to keep it interesting, yet not put off the fans of the genre.
However, as much as I respect keeping to the “classics” of a genre, there were lines in the dialogue that really “snapped me out” of the film. Not once, or even twice, but many, many times we hear the characters uttering now officially cheesy lines we have heard in EVERY SINGLE action film there ever was – or close enough. Stuff like “Don’t do it son.” “If you pull that trigger, you’re no better than I am”. I honestly do not know if it was meant to be homage to the genre in general or simply an effort to place Run All Night among “the classics” which have these lines as almost a staple, alongside the afore-mentioned fights and car-chases. The actors themselves all gave strong performances throughout, although the one thing I will say is that for someone who has been driven to drink over regrets of taking human lives, Jimmy Conlon does kill rather a large amount of people in quick succession (and once with his bare hands) without so much as a flinch. The build-up of his sadness and regret is so great when the premise is first set up, I would have expected him to struggle a tiny bit more, defending his son or not…
All that said though, the film does what it sets out to do so well that you quickly get caught back up in the next big “thing” on the screen and the adrenaline starts pumping, quickly making you forget (for the moment at least) any little niggles that were bothering you. In short the film is a fun night out, presenting you with pretty much exactly what it says on the tin at high quality but not very much else besides. Then again, there is nothing at all wrong with what it says on the tin, and it’s definitely one that action – and Liam Neeson – fans are going to enjoy.