Saturday, March 14, 2015

Run All Night

If you don’t like one Liam Neeson movie then wait a few months and there will be another. Run All Night is an above average entry in the genre of Liam Neeson Doing Things, one that allows our hero enough vulnerability to have made the script attractive while also offering Neeson some strong actors to work against. Neeson is Jimmy Conlon, a second-tier Irish mobster with too many kills on his resume. Jimmy is now a hanger-on in the world of Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), a boss whose feelings for the old days are so strong that he excuses Jimmy making a drunken mess of being Santa at his Christmas party. Shawn, whom Harris plays with a strong sense of coiled menace, is content to spend his days being the neighborhood loan shark and he isn’t interested in the drug deal his son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) brings to his table. The movie proper begins when Danny and his botched deal cross paths with Jimmy’s son Michael (Joel Kinnaman), and Jimmy must act to save a son he barely knows.

New York is just as much a character in Run All Night as Jimmy, Shawn, or Michael. Jaume Collet-Serra (working with Neeson for the third time) swoops his camera over rooftops and around corners to follow events in multiple locations and also to show just how small these characters’ world really is. It’s no accident that the cops Jimmy sees taking cash from Danny are the same ones who pick Michael up on suspicion of murder, and Jimmy’s assault on the police car holding his son is the movie’s action high point. A sequence with father and son fleeing a hit man (Common) through a housing project is well-staged but a little too much, since Common’s character - who has no problem killing cops - feels more like the solution to a writing problem than an actual person. It’s the actors floating all over this movie that are the pleasure of Run All Night. The scenes between Neeson and Harris are played with a deep commitment, there’s never a sense of two old pros showing off. Joel Kinnaman’s spikiness is a good match for Neeson, and there are also Vincent D’Onofrio as an honest cop and Nick Nolte as a relative too eager to mention the bad old days. Liam Neeson plays Jimmy as a man keenly aware of his mistakes who finds some peace with his last act. If Run All Night announces the end of Liam Neeson as action star then so be it. This unpretentious effort serves as fine showcase for Neeson’s full range of talents.

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