Sunday, March 15, 2015

Run All Night

Year: 2015
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris, Vincent D'Onofrio, Common, Genesis Rodriguez, Bruce McGill

Plot: Mobster Jimmy Conlon is forced to kill his boss' son in order to save his own son's life. Now he has to survive one night on the run with his son as the entire city, made up of his boss' goons, a contract killer and New York cops hunt them down.

Review: This is the third time Liam Neeson has collaborated with director Jaume Collet-Serra, and as it turns out, this is the best one yet. Unknown and Non-Stop were solid action vehicles, but Run All Night is a gritty actioner with a solid father-son drama thrown into the mix.

Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a hired gun for mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) who is forced to kill Shawn's wayward son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) in order to protect his own son Michael (Joel Kinnaman). Michael had earlier witnessed Danny kill two men, and the latter targeted him to tie up loose ends, only to end up on the wrong side of Jimmy's gun. With Shawn's men, NY cops and a contract killer (Common) hired by Shawn on their tail, both father and son have to survive one night on the run, which isn't made easier by their estranged relationship.

I would say that this movie is a clear step up in terms of story as compared to Jaume and Neeson's previous work. In place of the mystery solving that was the main focus of Unknown and Non-Stop is a gritty gangster thriller paired with a dramatic play between a father and his son. Jimmy is a man with many sins and blood on his hands, but clearly a man who regrets all that he has done. He inadvertently put more blood on his hands when he kills Shawn's son, but he has one last chance to make things right by keeping Michael alive and turning himself in to Detective Harding (Vincent D'Onofrio) when it's over. But it's a long night as Michael hates his father for leaving him and being a criminal, so the two men have tons of issues to sort out.

Jaume does a brilliant job of displaying the underbelly of New York, filled with dark alleys, darker basements, rough neighborhoods, crooked cops and foul-mouthed gangsters. Not that it hasn't been done before, of course, but his efforts here rank among the best I've seen. The pace is also quite rapid and there isn't a scene out of place here. As stated, the father-son drama was well handled and becomes the film's main selling point.

The entire cast perform well, except Genesis Rodriguez who is given a thankless role as Michael's wife. Neeson and Kinnaman have a great rapport playing father and son here, with the former scoring once again as a troubled hero with nightmares and alcoholism. Kinnaman does well too, but he plays his character a tad too serious at times. D'Onofrio is surprisingly effective as the cop on Jimmy's trail, which is a departure from the guys he usually plays. Ed Harris is also great as Shawn, giving a balance of calmness and viciousness in every scene he's in, while Common isn't bad at all as hired killer Price.

The downside of the film however would be Jaume's poor handling of filming action sequences, which appear mostly shaky or too dark here. The level of violence on display throughout the film makes up for it somehow though.

In conclusion, I'd say Run All Night turned out better than I thought it would. If you like gangster thrillers, this is a good one to check out. (8/10)  

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