Liam Neeson’s late career transition into an action star hasn’t always been for the best. For every The Grey (an underrated near-masterpiece of a film) there is another Taken film (which have never been good from the very beginning of the series). However, his collaborations with director Jaume Collet-Serra have worked out well for him. Unknown was a fantastic Hitchcockian thriller and Non-Stop was a decent follow-up thriller. Their latest collaboration Run All Night turns out to be another underrated film that is able to overcome its shortcomings through a fantastic ensemble and some solid action set pieces.
Run All Night follows Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), a mob hitman, after he is forced to kill his boss’ son (Ed Harris as the mob boss and Boyd Holbrook as his son) when the son and Jimmy’s estranged son (Joel Kinneman) get into a misunderstanding. In an act of revenge, the mob boss attempts to kill Jimmy’s son, who Jimmy must reconnect with in order to save his life. The plot of the film is actually quite ludicrous with action scenes that would make no sense whatsoever in any sense of a real world and cliché versions of the mob heightened to the extreme. However, there is something about Jaume Collet-Serra’s direction that makes you take your eyes off of the ridiculousness. He does it time and time again, and whether it’s through his kinetic style of directing action scenes or his ability to pull in good actors doing good work he always finds a way to make you take your eyes off of the problem of any given scene.
Speaking of good actors, there are quite a few in this film. Liam Neeson may seem a little bit miscast in this film at first as he is playing a character that is more of an anti-hero than the usual types he plays in these films. However, when his character becomes the usual stoic action star of normal he begins to feel right at home. The cast as a whole is solid all around whether it’s Ed Harris as an imposing central antagonist, Boyd Holbrook doing his grimy schtick very well, Joel Kinnaman finally getting a film role that fills his persona, or even Nick Nolte making an impact with just one scene. Of special note, however, is Vincent D’Onofrio as a hardworking detective. D’Onofrio has had a massive year in 2015 having appeared in the biggest film of the year so far (Jurassic World) and one of the breakout TV shows of the year (Daredevil). He has had 3 performances under his belt so far this year and all of them have been completely different but of the utmost quality. This man has range.
Strong directing and acting raises Run All Night above its subpar source material.