Run All Night Review More jog than sprint

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Monday, March 30, 2015


EVER since Liam Neeson's career was reignited by his role in Taken, he’s been known as some kind of hurt-my-family-and-I-will-hunt-you-down sort of character. Neeson has enjoyed some sort of career renaissance ever since becoming that sort of “super dad” character, and fans of that performance will be glad to know that the super dad character is in full effect in Run All Night.

Without getting too much into the plot, Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a former hit man who ends up pulling the trigger on the son of his former boss, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) while trying to protect his estranged son Michael (Joel Kinnaman). What ensues is a night of Jimmy and Michael going on the run from authorities, the mob and an assassin hired to hunt them down.

While the Taken series has Neeson’s character being separated from his family and trying to be reunited with them, Run All Night reverses the dynamic. In this movie, father and son are stuck together while the son is trying his best to get away from the father. While it’s an interesting way to shake up the sort of things we’ve gotten used to, the family dynamic fails to carry the same kind of weight that say, the first Taken film had.

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I feel like I’d blame it on Joel Kinnaman’s performance as Michael Conlon and the writing. Liam Neeson does a fine job of portraying the grizzled, distant father looking to reconnect with his child, but Michael Conlon is written merely as a pissed-off kid who remains bitter to his father for a good amount of the film. Add the fact that Joel Kinnaman’s eyebrows seem permanently furrowed throughout the movie and you’ve got a real one-dimensional character. The only character with any real depth in this movie is Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon who is constantly skirting between trying to keep his son close by where he can protect him and make up for his mistakes or letting him run off to a safe place where he won’t get caught up in the mess. Run All Night, however, is no hard drama, and it’s honest about it.

I think that Run All Night is one of the most honest titles of a film I have ever seen. They are literally on the run for a good amount of the film, very rarely staying in one spot. I like the pace for two reasons. The first being that it keeps them from being stationary and trying too hard to be a father-son drama. Secondly, it helps it be a more honest action film, giving more time to the chasing and fighting sequences which are well-executed.

Neeson is the standout for action sequences in the movie, as he does most of the fighting in the movie. And although he’s set up as some legendary hitman in their city, the fight choreography does well to make you feel that he’s not too much of a match for any of his opponents in the movie.

It wouldn’t be any fun if he just walked through anyone anyway, so it’s good that the fight sequences are able to maintain that feeling of him being a hard target to take down and yet still has to put up a good scrap against the people sent after him.

A problem with the movie, however, is that it feels so predictable. Once you realize how predictable the outcomes of situations are, it kills some of the tension of the action scenes since you already expect things to turn out just the way you thought they would.

And despite there being a lot of action in the film, I’m a little disappointed that it’s all pretty much familiar territory already.

Bathroom brawl? Check. Cat and mouse in a train yard? Check. Yes, it’s good action, but it’s not really anything you haven’t seen before.

Let’s be honest here, while the super dad character was good the first few times (the first two times, actually), the recent third Taken film felt like they were simply milking it. With how similar Neeson is in Run All Night, it simply feels now that this is too much of a good thing. While Run All Night’s plot may be slightly different, the ideas are largely the same, and too obvious to ignore. At least it’s honest about the kind of entertainment it sells, but even then it’s entertainment we’ve already bought before, and Run All Night does nothing to improve on that familiar formula.

*****
Run All Night Score: 7.2/10

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 30, 2015.

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