Run All Night

Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Common, Ed Harris, Génesis Rodríguez, Vincent D'Onofrio, Boyd Holbrook, and Nick Nolte

"Wherever we're going, we'll cross this line together."
-Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris)

It's abundantly clear that Taken marked a turning point in Liam Neeson's career.  As Bryan Mills, he became the action star we know and love today.  Well, he may be getting ready to arrive at another turning point in his career.  In a recent interview, he noted that he may only do action on the big screen for another couple of years.  If one were to take a look at his upcoming projects on IMDB, one would notice a shortage of such action projects.  With Neeson approaching 63 in June, that seems about right to me.  We can only watch this lanky old man run and believe it so many times.  The Taken era has to come to an end at some point.  Perhaps Run All Night marks the end.

Retired professional hitman Jimmy "The Gravedigger" Conlon (Neeson) has torpedoed his chances at having a meaningful friendship or relationship with anyone and everyone in his life.  His ex-wife is long dead.  Jimmy’s son Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman) hasn't seen him in five years.  In fact, Mike refuses to introduce his father to his wife Gabrielle (Génesis Rodríguez) or his two daughters.  Jimmy spends most of his days haunted by the horrible atrocities he's committed over the years and by the fact that his son hates him.  The only person in the world who cares about Jimmy is his best friend, supposedly reformed mobster Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris).  Wherever these two buddies go when this life ends, they'll cross that line together.  Other than Shawn, Jimmy's only companionship can be found at the bottom of a liquor bottle.

Though the past certainly haunts him on occasion, Shawn is troubled in a different way.  He's dealing with the woes of being a father and trying to keep his son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) out of trouble.  Hungry to make a name for himself, Danny attracts heat from some local drug dealers.  In a bloody gunfight that ensues, Jimmy's son Mike, a retired boxer and limo driver, witnesses Danny murder one of the drug dealers.  Given that Danny has already murdered someone, another is no big deal to keep his secret safe.  There's just one problem with Danny's math, Jimmy.  To protect his son, Jimmy ultimately ends up killing Danny, effectively torpedoing his friendship with Shawn.  The line that Jimmy and Shawn will cross together will not be so pleasant now.

It's not the next great action movie.  It's not Liam Neeson's finest (or fastest) hour.  It's certainly not the first time we've seen two longtime friends trying to tear each other apart on the big screen.  What Run All Night is, however, is an action flick that gets the job done.  For Neeson-led action vehicles, it's a step in the right direction after the decidedly underwhelming Taken 3.  Neeson finds a bit of the badass machismo that pulsates throughout his better flicks.  With Ed Harris as his antagonist, there's certainly an opportunity for Run All Night to showcase some solid trash-talking on screen between the two veteran actors.  Indeed, the movie does.

The story is decent, but predictable from start to finish.  We've seen plenty of warring friends and plenty of lukewarm father-son relationships featured on the big screen over the years.  While all the typical stylistic hallmarks — gritty cinematography, bullet-laced showdowns, and awkwardly emotional monologues — are present in Run All Night courtesy of director Jaume Collet-Serra, the cast elevates the material to make it a fairly entertaining two hours in the theater.

For his part as Jimmy Conlon, Liam Neeson does what he does best, shoots quickly and moves slowly.  Offering his typical brand of lone hero, the aging action star manages to keep things interesting.  As Conlon's best friend Shawn Maguire, Ed Harris gives us the typical reformed criminal who slides back to his brutal ways at the first sign of trouble.  Harris wears the facade of a criminal well and offers plenty of amusing one-liners along the way.  For his part as Jimmy's son Mike, Joel Kinnaman does a decent job but seems a bit whiny as the lone straight arrow.  There's no color to his performance.  We've seen the RoboCop star in better form. 

As entertaining as the aforementioned cast members are, the real standout is Common in his performance as Price.  He is a cold, calculating antagonist who lurks in the shadows.  When he decides to strike, it's action gold.  The only downside is that the vigor of the Selma star shines a light on the fact that his nemesis portrayed by Neeson is indeed old.

Run All Night offers a mixed bag.  I know I've spoken ill of Liam Neeson's AARP status.  I’ve beaten the dead horse that we've seen this tale before.  Regardless, the film still offers plenty of goodies in said bag.  Moreover, the signs of Neeson's age are continuing to show, but he powers through and delivers just what's needed on this rainy weekend.  Run All Night gets a 0.06% rating.