Friday, April 10, 2015

Run All Night: Review

In his latest film, Liam Neeson, gruffest of the gruff action heroes, plays a gang enforcer called Jimmy ‘The Gravedigger’ Conlon. For the first 20 minutes or so, it seems like the only grave-digging Conlon need attend to is his own. He’s on the skids, a drunk who’s getting by on his past reputation and his friendship with the boss. Of course, part of the fun of movies like these is guessing how much time will elapse before someone does something stupid and the protagonist is forced to don the garb of righteous killer.

The transformation in Run All Night happens when Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses a double murder by Danny Maguire, the hothead son of Jimmy’s boss Shawn (Ed Harris). Danny tries to kill Mike, which means that Jimmy, who hasn’t spoken to his son in years, must step in and kill Danny. And then father and son run all night, from the mob, from the cops and from a very weird assassin played by the rapper Common.

Run All Night bears some resemblance to John Wick, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s action thriller from last year. Both films have mob boss fathers trying to protect their hothead sons, failing to do so, and then attempting to extract revenge by killing their former enforcers. But John Wick had style and strangeness and a quite magnificent Keanu Reeves. Run All Night is a drag, full of the flashy emptiness one has come to expect from director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop).
For all their jumpiness, his action sequences have little dynamism or invention. A reasonably strong supporting cast can’t rescue the film: Vincent D’Onofrio dispenses tough cop talk about caffeine and grieving widows; Nick Nolte turns up looking like the Ghost of Noltes Past; and Ed Harris mostly just looks tired. As for Neeson, 62 might seem a good age to retire one’s career as action hero. But you know how it is in Hollywood: just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in for a sequel.

This review appeared in Mint.

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