I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
For the second time this year, I am reviewing a movie starring Liam Neeson as a man who has problems connecting with his kid and has the ability to beat people up. This is still a thing apparently.
Run All Night has Neeson play a former gangster who has to struggle to save his son, who is on the run from Neeson’s former mob boss. And as the title suggests, this is all over the course of one night.
It is fun to point out that this film’s lead actor has been doing the same sort of stuff in most of his films for years. Besides being an action hero a lot, he also consistently plays the older gentleman who teaches the feckless youth how to kick ass.
When I saw the trailers and other promotional stuff about this film, I thought, just like everyone else, that this was going to be another Taken retread. And while there are a number of similarities, besides both films being of the same genre and having the same lead actor, I don’t necessarily think that this should be a problem in and of itself.
For one, Liam Neeson is not the only actor to have one character archetype he keeps to, with subtle variations. John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are two of cinema’s greatest “legends” despite their acting careers both consisting of the same sort of work.
Secondly, despite the fact that a particular actor has the ability to drastically change the way a film could work, for many films, including this one, the fact that the lead has been in other similar projects should have no bearing on how I critique its quality.
So what level is Run All Night‘s quality? The answer is surprisingly good.
The premise feels like a reasonably clever twist on the classic revenge actioner, with the antagonist having a genuine reason to be angry at our heroes and the hero having sins that act as a consistent chip on his shoulder.
Yes, it has some cliches and the dialogue, being in a story that goes over the course of one night, is distractingly expository at times, but this movie kept me invested throughout.
The supporting cast, which includes Ed Harris as the mob boss after Neeson’s son, does an excellent job. A strange incident here is that the only member of the cast to have ever won an Oscar, despite big names like the two already named, was Common, the singer/songwriter, who plays a random hitman.
What about our lead? Liam Neeson’s character, like many in this movie, occupies a dark and dangerous world of people who carry scars from past lives, himself included. This makes for a protagonist who is easy to despise and sympathise with, which I loved. Neeson himself plays it well, despite him continuing to be unable to do a convincing American accent. Let’s face it, he really has problems with it.
The action suffers from some of the problems which plague many action movies in recent years. Occasionally the camera shakes to an extent where you cannot quite see what’s going on. However, I have seen far, far worse and I was never bored or confused by it. And at least the good guys often seem like underdogs, keeping the tension high.
Also, the violence is stepped up to 15 rating levels. This in and of itself is a move which can never save terrible action, but can at least help to deliver more powerful punches to the audience.
The direction has some noticeable style to it which I think kind of worked here, though I will concede that not everyone will agree.
Run All Night is everything Taken 3 should have been. I hope it doesn’t get a sequel which demolishes it all.
Recommended Scenario: When you want an action film that isn’t based on nostalgia or pandering to the male demographic.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.