Monday, March 16, 2015
Now playing at a multiplex near you:
RUN ALL NIGHT (Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra, 2015)
While watching this new crime thriller, I wondered: ‘how much longer can Liam Neeson make these sort of action movies?’ The next day I had my answer as it was reported that he told an interviewer that he’d be doing them for “maybe two more years. If God spares me, and I’m healthy and stuff. But after that, I’ll stop [the action] I think.”
That sounds fair. I mean, he can crank out a couple more TAKENs in that time and still have time for a few more generic, run of the mill offerings like this one.
That’s not to say there’s no fun to be had with RUN ALL NIGHT, Neeson’s latest collaboration with Spanish director Collet-Serra, their third after UNKNOWN, and last year’s airplane thriller NON-STOP.
This time around, Neeson is a washed-up mob hit-man boozing it up in a Brooklyn club owned by his former boss (Ed Harris). Neeson has an estranged son, a limo driver played by Joel Kinnaman (The Killing, the ROBOCOP re-make), who wants nothing to do with his father. Harris has a son, Boyd Holbrook (WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, GONE GIRL), an arrogant, entitled idiot who’s impatiently waiting to take over the family business.
The fateful night of the title, Kinnaman witnesses Holbrook shooting down a Albanian heroin dealer which, after a gun-fire filled chase through the dark neighborhood, leads to Neeson shooting down Holbrook. “I just killed your boy, Shawn,” Neeson tells Harris on the phone. “I had to.”
The scenario has similarities to JOHN WICK, in that the mob boss is actually sympathetic and understands what happened, but still needs to follow through and avenge his son. The intense yet weirdly warm exchanges between Neeson and Harris, particularly in a HEAT-styled meeting in a restaurant, are the film’s highlights.
There are some other mildly enjoyable elements in Common as a smooth dapper assassin on the trail of the father/son duo, and Vincent D'Onofrio as a frumpy cop (a guy as seemingly washed up as Neeson) set on finally busting Neeson after all these years. Sure, these characters are well worn clichés but I still enjoyed the actors’ presences.
Of course, Neeson, who amusingly is able to completely kick his alcoholism in a snap, and Kinnaman work out their differences in between shoot-outs, car chases, and brutal fist fights (my friend Fonvielle remarked that Collet-Serra and Neeson’s movies always have an intense confined-space bathroom fight), and the action moves from the city out to a house out in the country for the finale as it often does in these type things.
The stylish choice to have swooping cameras take us from aerial shots quickly down to ground level for transitional purposes is really better suited for high tech thrillers like ENEMY OF THE STATE or LIMITLESS. It's a cool looking device, but it doesn't feel in sync with this material.
There’s little depth in RUN ALL NIGHT, but it has more grit and less melodrama than Neeson/Collet-Serra's previous effort NON-STOP. This entry is far from an embarrassment, and I'm certain a lot of action fans (and especially Neeson action fans) will find it quite serviceable.
So seeya next time Neeson, when his big old end to action countdown to 2017 continues.