Kyle J. Steenblik

Run All Night is a Solid yet Arduous Action Film

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3 1/2 stars out of 5Run All Night
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
RAN_RGB_INTL_2764_4096Written by: Brad Ingelsby
Starring: Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Common, Ed Harris
Release date: March 13, 2015
Running time: 114 minutes
Rated R for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use

Run All Night is a pretty solid action film about mobsters, and hit men, if not a little formulaic,   There are a few missteps that that hurt the film, but not significantly.  Overall, my feeling is a little ambivalent about this film.  It was entertaining, with a decent story and action, but the characters were a little hollow and it came off as a bit predictable.  One of the biggest detractions for this film does not come from the film itself, but from how much the trailers gives away.  Which is tremendous shame because the film itself manages to build suspense well, but when you see so many key plot point in the trailer before you see the film it kills the suspense.  I cannot really hold that against the film, or the filmmakers, that is the fault of the studio that cut the trailer.  In spite of the fact that trailer inadvertently spoiled more than half the film, I did enjoy the film for what it was.  It was exciting action with an interesting, if not entirely original story.  Taken as pure entertainment, it does the job well.

Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is a retired hit man once known as The Gravedigger.  His past is starting to catch up with him as the faces of those he has killed, or driven away increasingly haunt him.  The only friend he has left is mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris).  When Jimmy’s estranged son, Michael (Joel Kinnaman) becomes the target of Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) after he witnessed Danny commit a murder Jimmy has to step in to save Danny’s life.  After Jimmy kills Danny, Shawn sends everyone he can to kill both Michael and Jimmy, including ruthless hit man “Price” (Common).  Jimmy now has one night to answer for all the sins of his past, to keep his son alive.

To break this film down on a basic level this is the same basic type of hit man/mobster/gangland story that has been played countless times, with some interesting variations, those variations being the extreme estranged father son relationship, and the remorseful ex-hit man.  I do not generally mind recycled stories if they are well done, or with a significant twist to offer a new perspective.  This one is well done, but it really does feel like re-reading an old book you have not read for a long time.

What this film did well was almost entirely on the action, and story side.  There is no two ways around it, the action was great, and anyone saying that car crashes and explosions is not great cheap entertainment is not to be trusted.  Do not get me wrong, that in no way means, it is good, but it is entertaining nonetheless.  The narrative in this film had roots.  The vast majority of action is based in the shared history of Shawn, Jimmy and Michael.  Unfortunately, they never fully cash in on this history, it is apparent, and there are many vague references, but only get the smallest glimpse, which robs us of the opportunity to see the characters develop beyond nearly two-dimensional figures.  This was the biggest problem in the film, the characters lacked development and I was less able to connect with Jimmy and Mike than I should have.  The story would have been much more effective had I cared just a little more about the fate of these characters, I almost cared, but not quite.  That pretty much sums up my feelings about this film, I almost care, but not quite, it was almost really good, but not quite, instead it was just not too bad.

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