There are few stories more satisfying than a father redemption story. It provides a great setting where father and son or father and daughter can reconcile while all their old grievances are laid to rest. It helps your story even more if you include gunfire, organized crime, and a satisfying chase around New York City.
In Run All Night, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Liam Neeson plays an alcoholic and former hitman named Jimmy Conlon. His old boss Shawn Maguire, played by Ed Harris, doesn’t have much use for him in his current pseudo-legitimate enterprise, but they remain close friends. Jimmy has a son, Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman), who hasn’t spoken to him in five years because of Jimmy’s past crimes. Mike takes care of his family by driving a limo and, in his spare time, trains young kids to box. Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook), on the other hand, remains in the crime business and even sets up a meeting between his father and an Albanian drug smuggler. Shawn rejects the proposal to smuggle heroin into the city and this puts Danny in a bind with his business associates. Danny decides to kill his way out of the problem, which causes the Albanians’ limo driver, Mike, to witness the whole thing. When Danny visits Mike’s home to finish him off, Jimmy is there to take out Danny. Shawn loves Jimmy like a brother, but he won’t let his son’s death go unanswered. He uses his connections with the police to frame Mike for the Albanians and gets both Jimmy and his son’s faces on TV. Jimmy has no choice but to help get his son out of the city before Shawn or the cops can take them in.
Much of this movie, running from the cops and chasing after the true killers, seems very familiar to another Liam Neeson film this year, Taken 3. Unlike that horrible movie, this one had exciting and plausible action scenes. Instead of Forrest Whitaker, we get Vincent D’Onofrio playing Detective Harding, who is the only person with a badge that Jimmy now trusts. Detective Harding has been trying to pin one murder on Jimmy for over twenty years and it looks like he has his chance.
Joel Kinnaman was terrific as Alex Murphy in last year’s Robocop and he shows a different range of acting in this movie, portraying the son with the biggest chip on his shoulder. He reluctantly accepts his father’s help and, as the movie goes on, you see him begin to respect his father despite his parenting shortfalls. Jimmy will do anything to keep Mike from having to stoop to his level, even on a night like tonight. Shawn makes that task even harder by hiring a contract killer named Andrew Price (Common). Price has a stealthy approach to his killing and practically scoffs at pain. One particular scene at an apartment building is terrific and keeps you engaged.
Last year director Jaume Collet-Serra directed Non-Stop, another well-crafted action piece for Liam Neeson. It’s impressive to see someone Neeson’s age taking on the role of the action guy in this stage of his career and succeeding at it. The first Taken film is so beautifully constructed, it’s like they put an episode of 24 on the big screen. Once that movie came out, it’s been a roller coaster of good and bad Liam Neeson action movies. Neeson is consistently spectacular in all of them, but it really does depend on who is behind the camera. Taken 2 and 3 are laughable and ripe with plot holes, but Non-Stop, A Walk Among The Tombstones, The Grey, and now Run All Night work very well.
I recommend Run All Night for the excellent car chases, fight scenes, and the Fugitive-style escape moments. The bonding scenes between father and son add weight to the movie as well. Liam Neeson makes you care about Jimmy and his mission to save his son’s life and reputation. Ed Harris is ruthless and unforgivable as Shawn. He underestimates Jimmy Conlon which gives us, the audience, a first class seat to a citywide battle between two old friends. At this point Neeson should do anything Jaume Collet-Serra is working on.
Run All Night:[usr 3.5]
About Run All Night
Synopsis: Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writers: Brad Ingelsby
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Bruce McGill, Boyd Holbrook, Vincent D’Onofrio, Common, Genesis Rodriguez
Runtime: 114 Minutes
Opens: March 13th, 2015