Run All Night is directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and sees him reunited with Liam Neeson for the third time following previous efforts Non Stop (2014) and Unknown (2011). The screenplay was written by Brad Ingelsby who also brought us Out of the Furnace (2013) starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck. In Run All Night Liam Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, an assassin for local hoodlum Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), who has turned to the evil Scotch to drown out the images of those he has killed.
The film establishes that Jimmy and Shawn have a long history possibly going back to the Vietnam war although this is not entirely clear. As a result, despite his problems Shawn’s got Jimmy’s back right up to the point when he kills his son Danny to save his own son’s life. At that point their life-long bond is broken and Jimmy has one night to set things right.
If you remember my blog last Thursday previewing the weekend’s new releases I was somewhat unkind, some might say cruel, about the prospects for this film. Looking at the box office I don’t think I’m too far off but as a film I kinda take back what I said. Run All Night is quite a lot better than Taken 3 (2014) and is in a completely different league to A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014). I put this down to two things – the first a properly fleshed out bad guy and the second a decent attempt to add some depth to proceedings.
Unlike Taken 3 where we had nameless East European types, in Run All Night we have Ed Harris delivering a character who we get to know and understand. He’s fought hard to be where he is today, he’s a proud family man and he’s learned some hard lessons along the way. We understand why he acts the way he does. The film rifts on the importance of family and those ties being stronger than any friendship. We get the Christmas party at Shawn’s house and lots of images of Michael Conlon’s (Jimmy’s son) family. I think the director is trying to reinforce the message that there’s lots at stake for both men as they reach the inevitable showdown.
This film is a long way from being a classic and it falls short of something like The Equalizer (2014) but it’s such improvement on Mr Neeson’s last two outings. It is extremely predictable even when the film makers attempt to sell you a dummy ending which is not helped by the flashback scene at the beginning of the movie. While I appreciate the attempts not to give up on the substance of the film I think the family card gets overplayed. I left the cinema feeling suitably entertained for a Tuesday evening. My rating 3/5.