A rousing chase hits a roadblock
These days, when it’s a Liam Neeson movie, you can safely bet that there will be cars toppled, rounds fired, and bodies strewn. The only question is: how soon? Thankfully, Run All Night takes its time before, well, Neeson runs all night. In addition to fighting trigger-happy men who, as he says, “won’t rest before they make corpses of us”, he also has to fight inner demons. There’s a lot of fighting here, but the time taken to establish characters means that you care for their safety when it’s eventually threatened.
It’s almost like Taken 4 — or is it Taken 5 ? — for Liam Neeson, who plays Jimmy “the Gravedigger” Conlon. He, again, gets the onerous task of protecting his child from the big bad world of gangsters, and even sports the same fatigued look as he riddles gangsters with bullets. However, there is a better story here than in the Taken sequels and the layers in it make the action scenes less cumbersome to behold. Jimmy is burdened with guilt, having committed more than a dozen murders. Unhappy detectives pile on the guilt by asking how he’s able to live after wreaking havoc on so many families. Jimmy, as you can see, is no usual hero, if a case can be made for him being one at all. He has a damaged relationship with his son. His friendship with mob boss Shawn Maguire (the excellent Ed Harris) is also on tenterhooks. Meanwhile, the relatable villain isn’t one to enjoy killing; you can see that he knows his choices won’t make him happy but has to go ahead with them nevertheless. It is hard not to feel sorry for him.
Run All Night is not a fun action film, as the title may have you believe. It’s about being torn between friendship and family. It’s about the redemption of a father. It’s utterly serious. That’s why Martin Ruhe’s shots of the camera flying from one end of the city to another seem gimmicky. They would have been more at home in a Matthew Vaughn type of film. It is a compliment to the writing and Ed Harris’ performance that the film works until a final act that goes on and on. The easy villain take down doesn’t help at all. Where is the satisfaction in playing a game where you have cautiously, painstakingly taken down all henchmen, only to encounter a ridiculously fragile boss? “I’m coming at you with all I have,” the villain says in the film. But when Run All Night ends, you’re left asking, “Is that all you have?” And not just at the villain.