RUN ALL NIGHT. Starring: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnamam, Ed Harris, Robert Boyd Holbrook, Genesis Rodriguez, and Common. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. Rated MA 15+. (Strong violence). 114 min.
This Canadian-American action thriller is about an ageing, alcoholic, Irish-American hit-man, who is forced to defend his family when it comes under attack from the mob.
In the past, Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) was a hit-man for the mob and was best friends with its boss, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Now, in his sixties, he is reduced to playing Santa Clause at the mob's Christmas parties, rather than killing people for his boss. While he was working for Shawn, Jimmy always seemed to put the affairs of the mob before his commitment to his own family. Over time, his actions have affected his relationship with his son Michael (Joel Kinnamam), from whom he has become estranged. Michael resents his father's job choice, and his absence from his life.
Michael accidentally witnesses Shawn's son, Danny (Robert Boyd Holbrook), murdering someone in a drug-deal that goes wrong. Danny pulls a gun on Michael, but Jimmy shoots Danny to prevent his son being shot first, killing Shawn's son to save Michael's life. As a result, the relationship between Jimmy and Shawn goes into serious down-turn, and they become sworn enemies.
For what happened, Jimmy and Michael are targeted and are on the run from the mob, and Jimmy knows he must protect his son. Shawn is bent on vengeance, and other members of Jimmy's family are threatened, including his son's pregnant wife, Gabrielle (Genesis Rodriguez). Jimmy also has to deal with corruption in the Police Force, and the murderous intent of the hit-men contracted by Shawn to do his criminal work. Jimmy has special problems with a ruthless professional assassin (Common), who is a contract killer for Shawn and uses night vision goggles and infra-red technology to track his victims down. The film has a particularly impressive sequence of Common on the attack inside a blacked-out, busy apartment-building that catches fire.
Liam Neeson was star of the aeroplane-action movie "Non-Stop" (2014), which was directed by the director of this film (Jaume Collet-Serra). Following "Non-Stop" and the "Taken" series, Liam Neeson is back in action once again. He asks his son to give him one night to fix things, and is on the "run all night". He has a single night to protect his son and family from the vengeance of Shawn and his mob.
The film is violent, gritty, and its action sequences occur at a frenetic pace with particularly fast camera work. Gun blasts, car chases, explosions, a shoot-out in the woods, burning buildings, knifing, and falling cement blocks all create havoc as Jimmy pulls the stops out to ward off the onslaughts of Shawn, the mob, and the Police.
The special effects are well up to the challenge and they create a solid ambience of threat in which the physical violence distracts from Jimmy's true purpose and psychological commitment. Character development, and the moral issues that accompany it, are secondary in this film to the thrill of the action, but they are nevertheless present.
Jimmy tries to make up for a lifetime of regrets and is looking for the chance of personal redemption. Jimmy has never wanted his son to kill others, and his estrangement from his family was always partly due to his desire to protect them. For their sake, he had "to walk away". The by-line of this film is "no sin goes unpunished", and the movie gives its by-line several ironic twists. This is cinema where good meets bad in adventure, and moral themes are given play. It aims first and foremost to excite with heavy action sequences, that are helped by dark photography. Character-issues supply an interesting background to this movie, but only from time to time do they occupy centre stage.
Whereas in "Non-Stop", viewers were made afraid of what can go wrong when they are passengers on a 767 aircraft in the air, this film shows fear and anxiety back on the ground.
Liam Neeson is good in the part, and, in his disarming casual way, he rises well to the demands of an ageing action-hero. This is a movie for viewers who like well-paced, Hollywood-style, aggressive action presented vividly and forcefully, and which goes regularly into over-drive.
The movie aims for character sophistication and development, and to some extent achieves them, but it is mostly the action that holds the sway. With all that happens in this film, it is a little hard to know what might lie ahead for Jimmy's family when the single night that he is given is well and truly over.
Peter W Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting
Warner Brothers Films
Released March 19th., 2015