Nutshell: Neeson is in his now probably trademarked BAMF Mode, and it’s a whole lot of fun for action fans. Harris & Neeson sharing scenes = the price of admission. All lean meat action, no filler. Grade: A
Is Liam Neeson the 21st century Charles Bronson? Yep. Pretty much. Run All Night cements that nicely, with tons of shoot-em-ups and a story that has you actually caring about them surviving the night.
This time, in the Neeson badass canon, he’s haunted Irish mob hitman Jimmy Conlon. Jimmy has done bad things, very bad things. And those things have him three sheets to the wind nowadays, in an attempt to soothe his aching conscience. And to help him forget that his only son Mike (Suicide Squad‘s Joel Kinnaman) couldn’t care if Jimmy is alive or dead. Scratch that; Mike would just as soon his “monster” of a father was six feet under. But when Jimmy’s old-neighborhood pal/mob kingpin boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) tries to rein in son/mob heir Danny (Gone Girl‘s Boyd Holbrook), things go south fast. Soon, Jimmy and Mike are on the run from Shawn and his goons, thanks to a stupid move by Danny that leaves the
idiot boy dead at Jimmy’s hands. “Give me one night”, Jimmy asks Mike, in the hopes of saving Mike, Mike’s pregnant wife and their young children. Cue the ultraviolence!
Actually, there is indeed a ton of violence in Run All Night, but it’s artfully done. Definition: there’s no splatter. Oh don’t get me wrong, kills are all done on camera. But it’s not in your face. The emphasis here is on dread, suspense and balls-to-the-subway-wall tension. Director Jaume Collett-Serra knows his star (he’s directed Neeson in Non-Stop and Unknown), and gets the gritty but strangely appealing camaraderie of mob life down pat. Run All Night feels like it’s actually playing out real-time in NYC, which goes a long way toward making this a believable film. So does casting top-notch actors. Seeing Neeson and Harris on screen, face-to-face, it a real treat. These two deliver amazing performances, and though everyone knows how it’s gonna go down, I almost felt sorry for Shawn. He’s a man trying to keep old-school ethics in a world where the younger generation just doesn’t give a [RADIO EDIT]. He knows his son is a scumbag, but the same ethics that have kept him safe and sane will now pull his world apart. Pity…?
And though I mentioned Neeson as Bronson earlier, Common channels The Mechanic in his portrayal of suave, merciless hired gunman Andrew Price. Dapper slacks, trench and style. He’s a killing machine, and it’s not personal. Chilling.
What else? The Pogues! Playing in an Irish bar! During a very pivotal scene! Yes, and thank you. Vincent D’Onofrio as battle-worn Detective Harding, who has chased Jimmy for decades but has never given up the hope of catching him. The Closer‘s Bruce McGill as Shawn’s right-hand man Pat Mullen; he barely has three lines, but his presence is palpable. Genesis Rodriguez for
the best freakin name ever her portrayal of Mike’s freaked out but loving wife Gabriela.
If you find you’re not up for the usual horror movie this Friday the 13th (the horror!), Run All Night will get your adrenaline pumping, and has the same popcorn-friendly feel. Better grab those Twizzlers too, it’s gonna be a bumpy night.