Release Date: March 13, 2015
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lois Smith, Common, Beau Knapp, Patricia Kalember, Daniel Stewart Sherman, James Martinez, Radivoje Bukvic, Tony Naumovski, Lisa Branch
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 114 minutes
Production Company: Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Energy Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
What seemed to be just another Liam Neeson film actually turned out to be much more. I think this guy can keep doing his thing forever, and I’m all for it. I didn’t pay attention to the director (Jaume Collet-Serra) until the credits rolled, and then I realized why the film is so surprisingly good. He’s directed a number of great films, and half of them star Mr. Neeson.
I admit Liam Neeson seems to often play the same role, but in the end that doesn’t matter. What matters is the entertainment factor he brings to each role. Though typecast, he still has enough talent to change the flavor just a bit, and turns up the intensity when necessary. Unless a film is of my favorite genre, it’s not too often that I volunteer for multiple viewings; but the way this chess game is set up makes me want more, and also the chance to witness other viewers’ reactions.
From the previews, the film seems very predictable, and at times it is, but that’s not a negative. I knew where the story was going (the previews make it obvious), but the way we get there is interesting. Collet-Serra does an excellent job of setting up all the chess pieces to play out in the right order.
From a visual standpoint, the film is like a game of connect the dots. It is a very peculiar way to get you engaged in the story. Initially, some of the camera movements are quite jarring, but a few moments later they give the film levity. I know the stakes, and the world that is created is corrupt and believable.
I’m sure that is the point, but Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is my favorite character. He is a man without fear, with nothing to lose. He is an honest man, who blames nobody but himself. He comes across as mentally drained from all the sins of his past. You’d think you should not root for the crooked, bad guy, but sometimes you just can’t help it. He now has a decent heart, although in the past it was darker than a black hole. You feel a bit of respect for Conlon because of his demeanor and his willingness to turn over a new leaf. We’re not quite sure if he is a victim of circumstance or just a malicious man with no remorse. But we do see what motivates him, and that’s his family.
Neeson is surrounded by a well-rounded cast. Ed Harris is a decent adversary and has the right bravado when needed. Common adapts to a role I’ve never seen him play before. The rest of the cast is great too and the characters have relevance, which makes you care about the outcome of their stories. There is even a nice cameo that couldn’t have come at a better time.
Some characters are experts, while others are just street thugs who can fight. But something more than just karate chops and training brings it all together. It is the passion of the characters, and the clash of wills that decides who wants victory more, that is enticing.
The action is great, but I wouldn’t call it an action film. Yes there are punches, kicks and bullets flying around, but I’d call Run All Night a chase thriller. I mean come on, look at the title. The execution isn’t perfect, but for the most part it is great. At times, a car chase has some sloppy editing which makes it hard to follow. Sometimes, an assassin does something epic and this is followed by a dumb WTF moment. Running through a stairwell with a laser pistol and night vision goggles isn’t the best idea when trying to be discrete. Though these are minor mishaps that don’t need too much focus, they are noticeable.
It is an entertaining film to say the least and it blew my expectations, which were quite low, out of the water. Once scene set up the inevitable, with promises to deliver, but did want more. For a second, frustration begins to erupt with the possibility of a premature ending.
A face-off with another character could’ve been grander. It is misleading, and the final confrontation does have the theater cheering a bit. I couldn’t be happier with the way the film ends, and I feel some characters get their shot at redemption. As I said earlier, the film does start out like a refreshed game of connect-the-dots, and in the end you’re smiling with the final product.
It’s an amazing experience to know how a film will end without knowing exactly how it will end, and still finding pleasure in viewing it. That just goes to the writing, and tying up all the loose ends. Run All Night makes me anticipate the next Liam Neeson film.