A man is forced to protect his son from criminals trying to cover up a murder.
Liam Neeson’s new action mode may have produced its fair share of duds (the Taken series chief among them) but Run All Night is a slighter better class of b-movie.
For one thing, it’s not quite the film you’re expecting. Writer Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace) has a fine line in fun convolutions, adding little bits of extra flair to proceedings. That might mean you get a car chase where the cops are fleeing for a change, letting them use their lights and sirens to make things more difficult for their pursuer.
It’s most keenly felt though in Neeson’s character. Rather than the ‘ex-special-something’ he’s played in every film since Taken, Jimmy Conlon is a broken man and, fundamentally, a bad man. He’s a drunk and a wreck and not a part of his son’s life. More complex still, his only friend is Ed Harris’ Shawn Maguire (yes, there’s an Irish connection) which becomes vitally important as the film progresses.
This isn’t just a film that is about revenge, it’s about family and loyalty and broken promises and that all adds to the drama and tension when the main action kicks off. It helps that Neeson and Harris do good growling at eachother and you’re already sure from the outset that things probably aren’t going to end that well.
There are definitely things to like, and others which won’t be popular with everyone. Personally I liked director Jaume Collet-Serra’s stylish transitions, lending the film a comic book air. I was less interested in the addition of Common as a late-coming hitman character, he just doesn’t gel with the gritty feel of the rest of the film.
But the film’s real issue is the running time. There’s a lean, mean 95-100 minute version hidden in these folds somewhere but the current picture sags badly in the middle. New characters are introduced long after we’ve invested in the narrative (apparently Nick Nolte’s role was trimmed back) and the film stages its finale across at least three locations and eons of time.
With slightly better pacing, Run All Night could have been a bit of a modern action-thriller classic. As it stands is an above average b-movie, elevated by strong performances and a sprightly script with enough gritty action beats to satisfy genre fans. Some of it scored to The Pogues…