Director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) re-teams yet again with star Liam Neeson for Run All Night, a gritty R-rated action flick slightly out of Neeson’s normal boundaries of ass-kickery. Run All Night isn’t your average shoot ’em up, instead playing a little darker and a little slower than what’s expected from a Neeson film and that’s actually one of the film’s strongest selling points, because it’s NOT just Neeson beating up a bunch of no name thugs for the fun of it. Run All Night is an intense thriller that reveals more of Neeson’s acting chops and Collet-Serra’s improvement beyond the camera.
Jimmy (Liam Neeson) is a washed up loser and a nobody. He was once a contract killer, but now he lives alone and has nothing to look forward to. His own son Mike (Joel Kinnanman) wants nothing to do with him, leaving his mob boss Shawn (Ed Harris) the sole person that gives two shits about him. But that all changes one night when Jimmy is forced to make a decision that results in the death of Shawn’s son by Jimmy’s own hands.
Now, he has one night to protect his son and figure out what’s really worth fighting for. Jaume Collet-Serra‘s Run All Night is a dark and gritty crime film that slows down drastically from Neeson’s latest action films and instead burns with a much stronger purpose. Firstly, the film plays strongly because of Neeson’s acting skills that are again proven to be more than just an action star ever since his Taken fame.
Run All Night focuses on the character of Jimmy and all of his regrets and past hopes and dreams coming to the surface for one last fight. Neeson displays the down-and-out hopeless type with the perfect balance of calm and mystery. Jimmy isn’t introduced as a hitman and that side of him is revealed later on in the film and it sort of comes out of nowhere. Watching Jimmy go back to his old ways is fun, exciting and slightly scary and sad once the realization of what he is doing is what also was the cause of his entire life’s collapse long ago.
Ed Harris does a good job playing Jimmy’s best and only friend Shawn, starting out the film as a fair business man and ending it as a mob boss craving blood for the death of his own son.
Joel Kinnanman‘s Mike isn’t exactly as interesting as Jimmy or Shawn, but he’s playing a rather simple character that’s given a little more than usual to work with. He does fine, but doesn’t quite hit it out of the park like Neeson.
Jaume Collet-Serra directs the film with a strong sense of style and craftsmanship. The camera is constantly swooping and panning around the busy and buzzing New York City as Jimmy and Mike race against the clock to fend off Shawn’s army of henchmen, an over-the-top assassin (played rather strangely by Common) and both the straight and crooked cops. It’s fascinating watching Collet-Serra constantly switch frames and shots and keep things well-coordinated despite a bulk of the film being shot in the dark and in minimal lighting.
There are a few slow moments that keep the film from being an on-the-edge-of-your-seat experience, but it’s refreshing seeing Neeson step slightly outside his comfort zone after being crowned the new action star of the decade. Run All Night has much more in common with A Walk Among the Tombstones than say Taken or even his last collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra, Non-Stop.
This is a much darker and violent affair than his usual PG-13 action flicks like Taken or Unknown and it’s great seeing Neeson play more of an everyday man (minus the hitman part) than some sort of top notch spy or secret agent. He’s a seasoned hitman that has been out of the game for a long time and it’s kind of great seeing him get his ass kicked from time to time, not exactly knowing if he’ll make it out alive.
Run All Night is one of the first solid action films of 2015 and one of Liam Neeson‘s more impressive films as of late. Director Jaume Collet-Serra shoots the film with a unique edginess that translates into a well-rounded action picture with a little depth for good measures. Run All Night isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely effective and a great display of the talent both in front of and behind the camera. The film’s third act could use a little trimming and Common‘s assassin feels a little out of place, but the film as a whole is an adrenaline rush from start to finish.
Run All Night – 8/10