'Run All Night' is a Generic Action Thriller, Yet It Still Manages to Work
There's nothing new in Run All Night that you haven't seen already. It's quite the generic action tale: men chasing one another in busy locations, men pointing guns at one another then shooting, and men being all gruff and tough. Yet, Run All Night actually works when it should fail given its lack of originality.
on the surface it looks one dimensional
Run All Night features a strong cast that all bring flavour and colour to their respective characters, which adds a nice touch of depth to this movie that on the surface looks one dimensional in its approach. It's promotional material didn't exactly sell this action thriller to be the most appealing of films, as it looks exactly like any other Liam Neeson film of the last ten years. And, to a point, that is exactly what Run All Night is. It attempts to be clever and director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unbroken) never gets a grip on the over-complicated plot, but he proves he still has his touch with the elements that makes good action flicks.
Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is an aging hit man who struggles with money and booze, even though he still has the respect of his childhood friend, successful gangster Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Jimmy's son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), has a family, works a legitimate job, and even mentors kids at a local boxing gym, but he wants nothing to do with Jimmy. Then Mike finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when he witnesses Shawn's loose-cannon son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), killing some dangerous thugs. Danny turns his gun on Mike, but Jimmy saves Mike by shooting Danny. Unfortunately, everyone thinks Mike is to blame, so Shawn's gang, a contract killer (Common), and the cops all chase after both father and son over the course of one long night.
its finest moments lay in its humanity
Collet-Serra, who's also made another Neeson movie, Non-Stop in 2014, isn't exactly subtle in approach to this genre. His movies can't exactly be called thoroughly concocted or even, adept in crafting drama. Run All Night is not his first foray into the action category and that shows as the action scenes and chases are the bright sparks. At times they feel ripply and too quick for comfort without a good sense of pacing. Some abruptly end when more time would've played it out more handsomely. However, Run All Night at times can be an ingenious windup machine. It can be a smart, and resourceful thriller. Collet-Serra's biggest asset as director is that he understands and poses the knowledge of how to use Neeson in an action thriller.
The appeal of Neeson in movies such as these is beginning to decline with interest waning from audiences. Yet, what he brings to this movie shows he may just have a little left in him. Run All Night's biggest strength is with its characters and their interactions as they all grew up in the same New York City neighbourhood. These touches of interplay breed compassion, empathy, and benevolence with the audience. It's a nice touch that hasn't been seen in movies such as these for quite a while. Such scenes feature the primary characters talking or joking before trying to kill one another. Sequences with Neeson and Ed Harris resonate most within this narrative ploy, as the weight of an unspoken bond between the two goes back long before the story started.
Run All Night is a movie that has been done plenty of times over, there is no getting away from that. Done wrong, these movies are overplayed, predictable, implausible and sometimes, painful to watch. Done right, and they're fun. Run All Night probably falls somewhere in-between.