Liam Neeson runs in a different direction …
There was once a time when Liam Neeson had a blissful career of great diversity and colorful characters. He played a tormented superhero in Darkman, a German Nazi soldier turned war hero in Schindler’s List, a true braveheart in Rob Roy and one of the greatest swords wielders the galaxy had ever seen in Star Wars: Episode I.
Then came Taken. And all of a sudden, the Irish-born actor went from a multi-talented chameleon to a kicking and screaming action hero. Now, the amazing thing is that Liam Neeson pulled it off! He was brilliant as the sweet daddy slash martial arts-expert CIA agent. That’s why he did two sequels and a whole bag of empty, insipid wanna-be movies that resembled his breakthrough-action movie to such a high degree that it felt like his character Bryan Mills from Taken kept popping up pretty much everywhere.
‘Time to shake things around!’ Liam Neeson must’ve thought, because his latest action movie although still in many ways like Taken … is quite something different.
Run All Night tells the story of a mob hit-man who ends up killing the son of a powerful mafia boss. Never mind that they were once dearest friends, once the son drops on the floor like a sack of flour, all the big boss can think of is offing his once best pal, starting with his own son as the ultimate penalty. It’s the beginning of another cat-and-mouse game like so many we’ve seen before … but somehow – although by far not the most original tale told – Run All Night keeps you awake for its entire course and that’s a heck of a lot more than most action movies today can accomplish.
Leading bad guy (although if you think about it, the man just lost his own flesh and blood, so he’s granted a little vindictive payback, wouldn’t you say?) … anyway … leading bad guy is played by the ever so amazing character actor Ed Harris. The very fact that the man never got his hands on an Oscar is a true and utter travesty. His role in this movie may not be his best, but he’s done such fantastic work in his career that you wonder why lesser actor with far less impressive careers were given the honor of winning an Academy Award and not this man!
That being said, Ed Harris has a distinctive character face like you wouldn’t believe it. His role is not by far as menacing as when he played another influential mafia figure in A History of Violence or a super creepy psychopath in Just Cause – now THAT was really scary! – but as you’d come to expect from a man of his caliber, he pulls it off nicely.
Squaring off against him is Liam Neeson who plays a weaker version of his Taken-character. But that’s not all that is different. In this movie, he is the sort of father figure who’s done more harm than good to his son’s life. If anything, it would fair to say Liam Neeson‘s character is a bit of an antihero. It takes a while for the audience to get used to this drunken nobody who walks around with a shady past of having killed so many innocent people.
Liam Neeson has taken (get it? Taken?) on much harder roles than this one, so things go as expected. He does a pretty fine job running around, gunning down people and occasionally ending up on the shorter end of the stick. Like Jason Statham in The Bank Job, it’s nice to know that Liam Neeson doesn’t always have to win in a fight. It’s refreshing to see the Irish actor in a more vulnerable shape.
The roles of the two sons are almost as great to look at as their respective fathers. Especially Joel Kinnaman who opposes his father (that would be the father played by Liam Neeson) is a guy with some charisma. The other one, Boyd Holbrook, is good too, but his character isn’t as fleshed out, so he has less personality to play with.
For those with keen eyes, you might recognize Bruce McGill as the lead thug who serves the will of his mafia boss, there’s also Vincent D’Onofrio as the one good cop tying the knots together and a surprise cameo of Nick Nolte who resembles some darker version of a Santa Clause …
Director of the movie is Jaume Collet-Serra, a man who worked with Liam Neeson before on more than one occasion. Unknown and Non-Stop are two movies that try desperately to mirror the success and originality of Liam Neeson‘s Taken, but to no avail of course.
Jaume Collet-Serra may have risen above the standards of being an amateur director, but the way he handled some of the action is really poor. At times the lighting is so dark and the action flashes by so quickly in short, bursting scenes that you literally cannot make out anything. Why not create a beautiful, well-choreographed fighting sequence that smoothly flows across the screen instead of a bunch of short shots that hardly reveal anything?
Because of the poor cinematography and the inability to translate the action better on the silver screen, Run All Night is a good enough for an action movie, but hardly the stuff you really wanna pay for. Better wait for the big guns this summer like the new Mission impossible!
Give it to me straight:
Run all night isn’t exactly new, groundbreaking stuff in terms of an action movie, but it does the job!
Liam Neeson takes on a softer, more vulnerable version of his Taken-character although it becomes quite clear the man’s finest years in the movie industry are well behind him. He’s okay as far as acting goes – same for Ed Harris of whom we’ve grown used to seeing better things, in all honesty – and it’s the two sons who take the biggest bite out of the cake. These young actors are really trying hard to distinguish themselves from the herd of mafia figures and more experienced actors in the movie. Joel Kinnaman is the better of the two and holds his own against the likes of Bruce McGill and Vincent D’Onofrio.
The story is pretty decent, although it’s been pushed to the background pretty early on, what with the focus on the action and all …
The real letdown and the very reason why this movie is ‘only’ pretty good are the clumsy camera shots. The quick succession in which the director changes from one angle to the next is too overwhelming, but in a bad way. You cannot see what happens and because of that, the joy of a great fight becomes lost in a rubble which is the poor cinematography. Also, some scenes are simply too dark to tell the difference between the guy you’re supposed to root for and the guy you’re supposed to hate.
As with most modern action movies of second-rate directors, the inexpert use of the camera is what fatigues the movie’s energy. With better directing, this could’ve actually been something special …
Give it to me short:
This is the kind of action movie that will be totally gone from the public’s eye in a matter of a year or two, perhaps even a couple of months. There are simply so many action movies America makes and you’d have to make something special to be remembered. Run all night is pretty good and at times it’s even exciting, but it barely reaches the same level as the average Hollywood action movie …