Run All Night is one of those films Liam Neeson fans will flock to, but maybe not other moviegoers. That’s a doggone shame, because it has a surprising bit of emotional weight, and is better than some of his latest offerings (looking at you, Taken 2 and 3). Speaking of which, no it’s not Taken 4, all you haters. Neeson plays a bit against his everyman hero type this time as Jimmy Conlon. Honestly it’s almost hard to root for him at times. Jimmy is a guy who’s hasn’t just become an alcoholic or lost touch with his family- he straight up murdered innocent people for his “best friend” Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) for years, and now he’s a pathetic shell of a man, wavering between apathy and regret. So, not quite an ex-CIA family man. Along the way, he delivers the “best” worst party Santa ever, but that’s another story.
It’s little layers like this that help the film rise above the average action flick. Ed Harris and Liam Neeson work well together, helping sell their (soured) friendship. They’ve been through bad and good together (mostly bad), and even though it’s obvious the relationship has been a bad influence on Jimmy (and maybe even Shawn), they cling to some sense of loyalty even to the end. The conversations they have about having to kill the other strike an odd tone, and highlight how lost the two criminals are in their own actions.
So blah blah story, how is the action, you impatiently inquire? Well, let’s just say that once the plot gets moving Liam starts Neeson-ing everything and everyone and doesn’t let up. There are several standout moments, including close combat inside a burning inferno, and a slick slow-motion rifle scene that reminded me of Non-Stop‘s crazy climax. Neeson is still fun to watch as an action hero, and Joel Kinnaman fills in nicely as his son Mike Conlon. While Mike coaches boxing, ultimately his character ends up watching or running while Papa Jimmy clears the room. Rapper “Common” brings a formidable opponent as hitman Andrew Price. My only issue with his character is the ridiculous laser that remains on and brightly pointing the entire movie. What’s with that? I get it’s there to look cool in the fog and darkness, but would an elite hit man really give his presence away like that? It’s not even a sniper, just a sidearm.
Finally, amidst the chaotic firefights and chases, we get a wonderful introspective moment where the weight of his choices (and life) finally hits Jimmy. It’s not played off in a corny way- instead it becomes a surprisingly emotional moment that stuck with me a little longer after the credits. The ending may or may not be surprising to the audience, but let’s say there’s more to think about than a typical guilty pleasure Neeson action flick. Don’t take my word for it- check this one out for yourselves. Or else, Jimmy will come for you.