Yet another typical Liam-Neeson-kills-all action thriller, and it's perhaps the worst one of all
(WARNING: This review contains spoilers)
After the success with Taken (2008), Liam Neeson has been playing practically the same role over and over again in films of the similar genre where he's either a weary cop, someone with a dark past, a lousy dad, an alcoholic, and here, he's three of the above. Don't get me wrong, I think he's a great actor. He's shown it time and time again quite consistently even after the great Steven Spielberg's Shindler's List (1993). But it's getting tiresome, and it's worse when practically every new film of his is worse than the one before. For once, his usual acting style and emotional charm could not help make the film more watchable than it should be.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra who worked with Neeson in his previous two films (Non-Stop, Unknown), Run All Night's plot is overly familiar, formulaic, convenience-reliant, and with the contribution of the poor script by Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace) and choppy editing by, surprisingly, two-time Oscar nominated Craig McKay (The Silence of the Lambs, Reds), it feels pretty damn stupid as well at most parts.
Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a legendary former hitman who's now a miserable drunkard as he's unable to forget the bad things he's done in the past and his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) resents him for abandoning the family. His boss, Shawn Macguire (Ed Harris), is literally the only person who cares for him but that goes out the window after he shot and killed Shawn's son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) when Danny was just about to kill Mike for witnessing a murder. Jimmy could've shot Danny's leg or something, but no, mess with Liam Neeson's family and you're dead, people! Being framed and hunted by both Shawn's hitmen and the police, Jimmy must "run all night" to protect his son while figuring out how to prove his their innocence.
The soulless writing and development of the characters are one of the biggest problems in the film. Not only it lacks the emotional engagement that it badly needs, it also made me not want to care for the characters as they all seem illogically unreasonable. There's no fault in Neeson and Harris' performances but the conversations between their characters Jimmy and Shawn are not enough to portray a strong friendship to a point that it matters to the audience if anything happens to it. It matters even lesser when Shawn disregards the fact that it's his son who caused his own death.
Kinnaman's character Mike is written to have this unforgiving and unapologetic nature, regardless of how much trouble he causes and how hard his dad Jimmy tries to redeem himself by protecting him, which makes him the most unlikable character in the story. Then there's also this supposedly threatening professional assassin by the name of Price, played the rapper Common, who's hired by Shawn to hunt and kill both Mike and Jimmy. For no reason explained, he hates Jimmy so much that he would kill him for free but he disappears after one chase-and-fight scene in an apartment building and only predictably reappearing at the end after Jimmy arrives to that place. It makes little sense as Price knew where they were going and had all the time in the world to get there before Jimmy, a wanted man with his photos on news broadcast, took the slow taxi ride to the finale. There are more problems in the film than I'd bother to mention.
The action in the film is nothing to shout about if you compared it to a film like John Wick, a superior action thriller with similar plot (one way or the other) but offers impressive stylish action choreography. The action sequences in Run All Night are typical old-skool Hollywood style -- running, shooting, and brawls filmed up close, with the always calm and cool Liam Neeson outsmarting everyone as though this is Taken 4 and killing 'em all as though Chuck Norris has passed the torch. Some sequences do look gritty, I'll give it that, but it would've been more intense and engaging if the protagonist showed a bit of struggle with his old bones and alcoholism. Does the director himself remember that Neeson's playing a washed-up aging hitman here and not some CIA agent or US Air Marshal?
The title doesn't mislead or defeat its purpose, but the film doesn't offer the kind of fun exciting thrill that Neeson action thrillers usually offer. It's understandable that he's not getting any younger hence trying to earn as much as he can before he's no longer wanted, but I hope he would read the screenplay first before accepting any role in the future.
Malaysia Censorship: There are two or three rather strange jumps, not sure if it's because of the actual editing, but other than that, nothing is cut or muted at the press screening. All profanity are intact, no sequences are too violent and no scenes that even comes close to any nudity.
Second opinion: My girlfriend said that she almost didn't have the patience to finish watching the film.
Verdict: This is the first time I felt absolutely bored watching an action thriller with Liam Neeson as the protagonist.
Rating: 1.5 / 5
Genre: Action thriller
Running Time: 114 minutes
Director: Jaume Collett-Sera
Screenwriter: Brad Ingelsby
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Vincent D'Onofrio, Boyd Holbrook, Patricia Kalember, Genesis Rodriguez, Nick Nolte
Malaysia Release Date: 12 March 2015
Local Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia
Production: Vertigo Entertainment, Energy Entertainment
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