Liam Neeson has a very particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career that he will use to find you and kill entertain you. Ok, I may have been paraphrasing Taken there, but so has almost every other film Neeson has made post-Taken, including the Taken sequels. Run All Night is no exception, predictably feeling like the ghost of Christmas past, present, but hopefully not the future.
Jimmy (Liam Neeson) wouldn’t win any humanitarian awards or father of the year medals. His sordid past consists of playing hitman for his friend, crime boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), and abandoning his wife, and son Mike (Joel Kinnaman). Jimmy’s future for now consists of finding his grave at the bottom of a bottle, until one Christmas Eve, he has one more mission to go on to protect his son, who wants absolutely nothing to do with him. Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook), tries to set up a well-paying deal, but it ends up backfiring. Danny murder’s the potential business partners as Mike accidentally witnesses that whole thing. As Danny is about to get rid of one last witness, Jimmy steps in, being forced to kill him, and end up on Shawn’s shitlist. Jimmy and Danny are forced to go on the run, fighting off corrupt cops, henchmen, and one very clichéd assassin named Andrew (Common). There hardest battle isn’t with other people, but with each other and their relationship. Obviously, the only outcomes will be revenge or redemption. Oh, or death, since the film starts in medias res with Jimmy laying on the ground bleeding and his disembodied voice about to tell us how he got to this point. Someone should have probably stopped him.
This isn’t director Jaume Collet-Serra’s first time at the Neeson rodeo. He has previous directed two Liam Neeson-starring action films (Non-Stop, Unknown), each as forgettable as the last. The blame cannot be solely placed on him, because in this film, the lazy, complacent directing is one of the lesser crimes committed. The key criminal that seems to always victimize Liam Neeson and every action film he takes part in is the trite, and often convoluted, screenplays. The characters are always laughably stereotyped to the verge of parody. The story itself feels forced and fantastical, leaving us unable to believe that it could happen in other world than the fictional world on-screen.
Like the action stars of old, who populated the screens of most of the action films during the 80’s and 90’s, Neeson is picking up the mantle for this decade (and probably the next). Despite every shortcoming, Liam Neeson, the consummate savior of hackneyed action films, gives his usual rousing performance. He is joined by the acting veteran Ed Harris, and together they make a believable duo of friends and mortal enemies. Unfortunately their relationship isn’t enough to add depth to this film, let alone keep us entertained for the duration of it.
Run All Night doesn’t have enough gas to get through the two hour run-time, let alone the stamina to go all night. Liam Neeson can only keep this film (and all the others like it) in motion for so long before it’s stale, shopworn story drags the entire thing down into the depths of your short-term memory to await oblivion.
RATING: ★★★★(4/10 stars)