GENRE: Action, Crime, Thriller
DIRECTOR: Jaume Collet-Serra
WRITER: Brad Ingelsby
STARS: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Common
PLOT: Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.
Liam Neeson is showing no signs of slowing down as he continues to single-handedly prop up the geri-action genre while it waits for another Expendables movie. Following Non-Stop, A Walk Amongst the Tombstones and after dragging the Taken franchise out of the old folks home for a third time, he becomes a tortured ex-mobster in Run All Night.
Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) was a hitman for childhood friend and local mob boss Sean Maguire (no not the Grange Hill/Eastenders actor and singer). Estranged from his family, Jimmy spends his time hard drinking, heavy smoking and falling asleep in bars. But when his limo driver son takes a job he soon regrets Jimmy has to win over his son whilst keeping them both alive.
Having seen a few reviews from proper big boy critics I understand that the script is a poorly veiled retelling of Tom Hanks’ The Road to Perdition (a film critically lauded, though I found it far to slow and dull and turned off halfway through).
I found the story engaging, the acting as good as you can expect for the type of film and gritty look felt authentic. However there is a creeping problem with many modern films where the director has to add in as many gimmicks (long fly-throughs, spinny cameras, hyper-coloured shots and pretty much everything else from the big book of movie making). Here we find Collet-Serra pulling out all the stops to show that he learnt something at film school and only managing to pull the viewer out of the moment. I am sure he will claim that the juxtaposition of his glamour shots of skyscrapers and the grimy underworld were a deliberate commentary on US culture, but I say he was just showing off.
The biggest case of this is during the films money-shot. Jimmy is injured and needs to cock a shotgun with one arm and take out a legendary hitman played by Oscar winning rapper Common (by his performance you can see why his Oscar was for the song ‘Glory’ from Selma rather than for acting). As Jimmy swings the shotgun around in a circular motion, the camera is attached to the gun, swinging the viewer into a somersault and into a Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves styled close up of the bullet flying through the air. These gimmicks would have been fine in a flashier movie, but completely threw off the flow of the film and resulted in my customary roll of the eyes and muttering of displeasure.
Neeson’s resurgence as the last-legs action hero surely can’t continue for much longer as he really does struggle with any scenes that involve him moving any faster than a shuffle, so we should enjoy them whilst we can.