#REVIEW: “RUN ALL NIGHT”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is an aging Mob Hitman well past his prime. He is struggling to get by, despite being catered to by his Friend and Boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). One fateful deal involving Jimmy’s Son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) and Shawn’s Son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) sets-off a night of survival for the estranged Conlons, and puts loyalties to the ultimate test.
Run All Night is the third pairing in four years for Neeson and Director Jaume Collet-Serra. Their previous efforts Unknown and Non-Stop, each had a form of a gimmicky hook to them, but this Film is just a down and dirty Genre Picture. As the Title suggests, nearly the entire Film takes place at night – taking advantage of rain, lightning and fog to really sell the atmosphere. The lightning also takes on a life of its own, using bright spot lights and the lights of the New York City landscape to help set the scenes. It feels experimental at times, but it is the real stand-out element of the Film. Collet-Serra shakes up the grit even further with aerial drone shots and computer enhanced close-ups, which are interesting at first but become irritating all too quickly.
But the Film itself is nowhere near as interesting. From the very beginning, the pacing is completely off. There is so much going on and so many voices at once that it ends up running in multiple directions, never seeming sure of itself or who it should be focusing on. Some scenes are cut rather quickly, while others run far too long. And the Film slows down so often that I found myself forgetting why the Conlons were on the run in the first place.
We are not used to seeing the great Neeson as the Anti-Hero type, and he struggles with the challenge. He is playing a skilled Professional, but for the first time in a very long time, I did not feel like he was aping off his Character from Taken. Conlon is an alcoholic Wash-Out. He’s sloppy and he makes mistakes. Although Neeson appears uncomfortable in the Role, this somehow works in favour of the Character surprisingly. It adds a worn-in element that is missing from the Supporting Cast (even with those who have the tiniest of Backstories), and gives his Character an edge in a sea of one-dimensional, dime store cut-outs.
Try as they might, no one can really keep-up with him. Kinnaman is on the verge of becoming the next big Action Star, but there never seems to be enough material for him to make that impression. Vincent D’Onofrio does well as the Detective on the hunt for Neeson, but lacks a real challenge. Common’s Assassin Price shows up deep into the Second Act, and is built up to be a crazy, hardened Killer. But he barely gets any lines, and his Character comes off drone-like. I really enjoyed Harris as the aging Mob Boss, but the Film only uses him sparingly. He is the Film’s MVP, and really shines in an intense Diner scene opposite Neeson that is reminiscent of Heat. It’s a great stand-out moment, but only further perpetuates how sad it is to see Harris stranded on the sidelines for so much of the film.
Run All Night certainly isn’t awful, but on that note not spectacular either, adding little to a saturated Genre. I applaud Neeson for trying something new here, although I hoped for something more memorable.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release RUN ALL NIGHT Friday, March 13, 2015.