Review: Run All Night (2015)

Run All Night (2015)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Common, Ed Harris
I didn’t expect anything great from this film based on description. Liam Neeson helping out one of his many kids, the “aging hitman” generic premise, and gangsters, hitmen, and dirty cops around every corner in a big city at night. As clichéd as this film was, the execution was well done to create a rather entertaining experience, even if it isn’t a terribly memorable one.
Neeson stars in this film, that takes place in a 16-hour period, as Jimmy Conlon, a sixty-something assassin whose son legitmate son hates him. Mike, the aforementioned son, played by Kinnaman, has a family and works as a limo driver. Neeson’s boss (Ed Harris) has an extremely cocky yet predictable son who, after several coincidences feels compelled to kill Mike. After a turn of events, this turns the entire New York mob against both the Conlon men, and now we have our action film.
This movie’s multiple gunfight scenes, despite initially coming off as something that will become repetitive and uninteresting, actually become more exhilarating as it goes on. The characters, albeit rather stereotypical, are made to be actually interesting. Neeson’s character is never as complex as you think he wants to be, but he definitely grows on you. Ed Harris’ “mob boss” is not anything special, but given his situation you are giving a mild understanding of his actions, even though his reactions are heavily dramatized and exaggerated. A large part of what makes this movie good however, is the relationship between Neeson and Harris’ characters. This becomes some of the best dialog in the movie, and the part of the story we emphasize with the most as we learn more about its background. It is through this relationship that we actually care for any character in the film. Another character, played by Common, a rap musician also on AMC’s Hell on Wheels, is another professional assassin in the movie. This character comes off as an emotionless Terminator-esque robot of a person, but through ambiguity the character is made to be genuinely interesting. At other times during the more dramatic scenes, however, the character’s emotions feel forced, and the movie tries to present itself as something it simply isn’t.
The style of Run All Night also needs to be praised. Almost every scene’s consistency of displaying New York nightlife contributes to making this movie the thrill ride Collet-Serra yearned to create. It gives it a very welcome neo-noir feel. The transitional sequences are not revolutionary, and in a different film could’ve been viewed as generic, but in this one gave more adrenaline, at least by the time the film was in the thick of its plot.
Despite its admirable execution, this movie is definitely imperfect. As previously stated, we see Liam Neeson again playing a character who has existed in multiple action films. At times, this movie is as predictable as I expected it to be going in. The adrenaline is in-the-moment, and wares off shortly after the film is over, and since thrills is what this movie thrives on, it makes the experience increasingly insignificant over time. This shouldn’t downplay the fact that overall, Run All Night was a pleasant surprise, despite at times coming off as the poor-man’s John Wick.

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