A recent failed sitcom defined a character as being a guy’s guy due to his love of Liam Neeson movies. I knew that Neeson had taken on more action roles in recent years. There’s that great Key and Peele bit celebrating that. But to hear the phrase Liam Neeson movies like we used to say “Schwarzenegger movies”, well, that’s kind of weird.
Neeson’s latest shoot ‘em up takes place in the world of hockey loving Irish mobsters. Run All Night is standard thriller fare. Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) and Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) are old mob buddies in New York. Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) is a screwup wannabe gangster. Jimmy hasn’t spoken to his son, Michael (Joel Kinnaman) in years. When Danny decides to pull a Sonny Corleone and get the family into the drug business, his father refuses, leading to Danny killing the Afghani gangsters he was dealing with that just HAPPENED to have been driven there by Michael. Danny goes after Michael and ends up getting shot by Jimmy. Got all that? Oooooookay! There’s your setup.
The old guard is well represented in Run All Night, as old pros Neeson and Harris have good chemistry together. The youth? Not so much. Kinnaman and Neeson don’t really work as father and son. That’s not good considering their relationship is supposed to be the emotional crux of the movie.
The plot is fairly straightforward, until Maguire brings an assassin into play, Mr. Price (ACADEMY AWARD WINNER Common). Price gives Run All Night a push into the absurd that gives the film a spark of life. There’s a sequence in the projects that gets out of hand really quickly. He feels like a Bond hitman dropped in the middle of this mafia revenge story.
Even with the over-the-top addition of Mr. Price, Run All Night feels like a missed opportunity. There’s the odd framing device of a regular season Devils-Rangers game. The Rangers are a huge part of the film. The Maguires have Rangers memorabilia all over there house. The game is on in the background. It’s even used for cover by Neeson in the movie. But is it all just there to be used for a quick getaway? Am I missing something?
While Run All Night is big old ball of meh, it might have actually been pretty good in the hands of a better director. Jaume Collet-Serra relies far too much on gimmicks like slow motion, frozen action, and digital zooms around the city. In the right hands, this could have been a throwback thriller about two old friends forced to fight each other to the death. Instead, it’s a run of the mill modern shooter. You’ll enjoy catching this on TNT at some point down the line.
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- This movie was already dated by the time I saw it, since Jaromir Jagr was traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Florida Panthers that very day.
- How are you gonna set the son up as a boxer and not have him knock someone out? Come onnnnnnn.
- Vincent D’Onofrio is also in this. He is pretty good. Hooray.
- Liam Neesons may have to drop the ‘S’ in a couple of years.