Anyone else feel like Liam Neeson’s career right now is basically ctrl x, ctrl v?
“Run All Night” stars Liam Neeson as a pitiful former criminal whose life is thrown into turmoil when his estranged family finds themselves in danger from a former boss and friend. The complications and turmoil that ensue mean that for one night he must do whatever it takes to keep them alive. And boy does Liam Neeson know how to do whatever it takes, as we’ve seen before in movies like; Unknown, Non-Stop, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Grey, Taken 1 through 3, and The Lego Movie. OK, maybe that last one’s a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. But here’s the thing, this one might actually be a little bit different.
For one, he’s not really the one the movie leans on. I mean sure he’s central to the plot, but when you’ve got class actors like Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Joel Kinnaman (who I loved in the TV show The Killing) involved there’s plenty of quality to go around. Also, it has a bit more heft to it, the emotional weight of the movie feels truly authentic thanks to a really grounded plot and some well crafted relationships. Not only that but they actually make some interesting visual choices here too with some cool and well thought out transitions that help give the story a sense of tone and space. I also thought the plot was a little more intricate and well thought out than the usual fare, which kept me engaged mentally even when the pace waned a bit visually. Of course another way it differs is that it’s not the typical Neeson character. His character in this is much less self assured and is more in a survival mode then a kick butt mode. In fact, I don’t even think he throws a punch for the first hour of the movie.
Which, if you’re coming in expecting an “I’m all out of bubblegum” Liam Neeson, might actually be a big bummer. It almost feels as if they should have promoted this a bit differently, maybe move Liam back on the poster, and make it more an ensemble piece. I mean I get wanting to use Liam’s action movie draw, but it might result in dissapointed Neesonites, and some bad word of mouth. Of course, that wasn’t necessarily the issue for me. My issue was mainly the typical plot convenience, ridiculous writing, and gunplay moments that are the stock and trade of these types of gangster flicks. Plus, the movie puts some pretty specific foreshadowing at the start that kinda tainted the rest of the movie for me plot wise. I mean I wouldn’t say it ruined the movie for me, but I certainly found the thought of it distracting and annoying as the movie moved towards its conclusion.
At the end of the day, “Run All Night” seems to overcome the typical gangster movie cliches and silliness through some great acting and an interesting enough plot. The end result is a decent action movie, even if its not necessarily a decent Liam Neeson movie. I say it finds it’s way to the end of the night with a B-