Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra (“Non-Stop”)
Written by: Brad Inglesby (“Out of The Furnace”)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: in order to escape a dangerous situation, a deeply flawed, but stoic and stern Liam Neeson needs to use his kickassery skills that were honed in some vague way to pile bodies and save the day. It’s a formula that has served Neeson well, as he has sustained a newfound action film career as he rolls into his 60s. Still, one can’t help but think Neeson is making the same movie over and over again, an issue which continues in “Run All Night.”
After witnessing a murder, Mike (Joel Kinnaman) finds himself in danger from the ruthless son of a mobster. When Mike’s estranged father Jimmy (Liam Neeson) shows up to try and protect his son, he is left with the choice to kill the man after him. To complicate things further, the man he killed is the son of his longtime best friend Shawn (Ed Harris). With a vow to return the favor, Jimmy and Mike must band together to survive one long night.
There usually isn’t a lot of variance or nuance to Neeson in this particular type of role, and “Run All Night” provides no exception. It’s a typecast that, at this point, he is comfortable in and, to his credit, also pretty adept at. Still, it is no different than any other performance in any other action film he has starred in. As his son, Kinnaman is a little bit of a blank slate, never showing enough emotion to register as a worthwhile character. Of the entire cast, it is the always fantastic Harris who stands out as the most well rounded of the bunch.
The “eye for an eye” driving story behind “Run All Night” is familiar, but is actually heightened a bit by the prior relationship between Harris and Neeson’s character. Unfortunately, those complexities are never fully explored and it feels like an entirely missed opportunity. There is also the case of the father-son relationship between Neeson and Kinnaman, which is intentionally icy cold from the get-go yet never warms up, even when it is meant to.
The requisite violence, narrow escaping in close calls and angry phone threatening that happens in every single one of these Neeson movies is, of course, present and at the forefront of “Run All Night.” It is generic, by the numbers and a clear signal that the Neeson shoot-em-ups are growing tired. Neeson, unexpectedly, has proven himself to be an action star capable of commanding the screen. It’s a shame that filmmakers can’t provide him with more complex roles and juicier storytelling.