SYNOPSIS: Liam Neeson stars this Warner Bros. thriller following a mob hit-man and his estranged son (Joel Kinnaman) as they flee the wrath of a vengeful crime boss (Ed Harris).
Run All Night is a fairly typical action/revenge film. You’ve no doubt seen the trailer and know that Liam Neeson and Ed Harris play two way-past-their-prime mobsters who are apparently going to fight to the death over a dead son.
Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a former hit-man for Irish mob boss Shawn Maguire, played by Harris. The two have apparently been close during all of their lives of crime, but when Conlon kills Maguire’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) to prevent him from killing his own son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), all bets are off. Never mind that Danny is a complete screw-up who’s gotten himself in trouble with the Albanian mob. Never mind that Shawn has told him emphatically that he’ll no longer bail him out of trouble. When Danny dies, Shawn does a 180 and swears to avenge him.
Jimmy’s son Mike wants nothing to do with him and has carved out an honest life for himself and his family. He drives a limo and mentors an underprivileged kid, Curtis “Legs” Bank (Aubrey Joseph), at a boxing gym. He lives quietly with his wife Gabriella (Genesis Rodriguez) and two daughters. They’re expecting child #3, a boy, and everything seems to be going okay until Mike is on a job when he unfortunately witnesses Danny murder a couple of guys. No matter that they are old friends – Danny is going to kill him anyway.
The next thing you already know – Jimmy ends up killing Danny to save Mike. And so begins Shawn’s mad chase to kill Mike to make Jimmy suffer as he is suffering. The only question now becomes who will survive (no spoilers here!). Shawn even hires a ruthless, stone-cold hit-man Price (Common) to seal the deal.
Neeson and Harris are skilled actors who never give bad performances, even in a weak story like this one. Neeson, however, has his best moments in the beginning of the film when he’s a pathetic drunk, haunted by his crimes, who lives basically on Shawn’s charity. After the shooting starts, he’s pretty much on auto-pilot. Harris does his best to make his revenge for his completely unsympathetic son believable. Both actors playing the sons, Boyd Holbrook and Joel Kinnaman, do fine jobs in their yin-yang parts.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra has directed Neeson twice before, in Unbroken and Non Stop. Seems as if Neeson is his go-to guy for action. The story line is quite predictable: car chases, chases on foot, close calls that stretch credibility, fights that no human could actually survive. Well, you get the picture. If this sort of action film is your thing, you’ll most likely appreciate all of the stunts and effects.
One thing that Collet-Serra does very well is establish a mood. Sometimes I complain that too many “art” shots distract from a plot line. In this case, it’s just the opposite: the “art” shots make the film. Beautiful sweeping shots of New York at night, the night sky, dingy mob hang-outs, and a fog-kissed early morning were, for me, the only redeeming qualities for Run All Night. There are certainly few surprises. In fact, the title just about sums it up. - JoAnne Hyde