Run All Night is an appallingly soulless exercise in revenge, violence, slick filmmaking and rote storytelling. Yes. It’s yet another Liam Neeson action movie.
R for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use
Oh heavens. Neeson’s found another down-on-his-luck character with a deep, dark past in Jimmy Conlon. This time, the schmuck’s estranged from his son, grandkids and pretty much the rest of the human race. Dressed as Santa Claus — and drunk off his butt — Jimmy propositions a woman in front of a bunch of children — and her husband (who’s also one of Jimmy’s few alleged friends).
And, in what serves as the only attempt at a differentiating factor in this blanks-shooting dud of a movie, Jimmy’s past is ridiculously unsympathetic. He’s a low-rung mobster and a cop killer with 16 or so names on his list of victims.
For all intents and purposes, this “character” should be long dead, but in order to make a movie of it, he has somehow managed to skirt the law for decades, staying low profile in the Tri-State area while New York’s finest, apparently devoid of a single scrap of evidence, repeatedly try to catch him in a slip-up.
My Father, the Actionista
Neeson is often referred to as an action star these days. But, really, that’s only in the broadest sense of the term. When it comes to action, he’s no Chuck Norris. He’s no Schwarzenegger, either. Those guys showed their guns, they didn’t just fire guns. That’s Neeson’s downfall.
Sure, he might be fashionable in a wife-beater while nursing a hangover, but he’s almost always wearing a jacket of some sort, covering those flesh-pummeling guns. And he’s not involved in any particularly inventive action scenes, either, nothing like when Norris was buried alive in a 4x4 and drove himself out of a would-be grave.
Nah. Neeson, 63, spends most of his action time firing bullets. While wearing a jacket. Or a sweater. And as the end draws near, scarred, bloody and, of course, limping, he has also been degraded to the sheerest veil of a mere caricature.
None of the other characters fare much better.
There’s Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris, The Right Stuff), Jimmy’s high school pal, mobster, businessman, father. Shawn’s son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook, Gone Girl), offers his dad a can’t-lose business deal involving shady Albanians and heroin. Amazingly, Shawn nixes the deal, having learned his lesson to stay away from drugs decades ago. But his headstrong son gets mired in a bad deal that ultimately puts him in — voila — the sights of Jimmy’s gun.
As the situation unfolds, it’s either Jimmy kills Danny or Danny kills Jimmy’s son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman, last year’s RoboCop remake). Of course, Jimmy, being such an ace shootist, might’ve thought about merely disabling Danny instead of shooting him dead at point blank range, but hey, where would the story go with that logic?
My Son, the Pugilist
Mike, in contrast to his father, is (surprise) a model citizen. He’s a married father of two, with a third on the way. He’s a mentor to kids struggling in the ‘hood, and he’s a proficient boxing trainer. He also drives a limo to pick up some extra bucks for the family. All ploys to make him likable and a sympathetic victim when Shawn decides, after about 5 seconds of grief, to hunt down both Jimmy and Mike.
At one point, in a well-meaning attempt to patch up years of a neglected father-son relationship, Jimmy tells Mike to be sure to stay off the main roads while on the lam after being framed for killing those Albanian drug dealers (there’s a whole lot of dyin’ going on here, which might explain why Junkie XL’s score sounds more like something from a horror flick than a genuine action movie).
Anyway, staying off the main roads is mighty good advice, but it’s advice everyone involved in this production ignored. Run All Night never strays from the beaten path.