“I’m here asking for my son’s life, Shawn. He’s a good kid. He’s got a family; he don’t deserve this,” pleads Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson). “You know how this has to end. I’m coming after your boy with everything I got,” replies Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), the Irish mob boss of New York City. Jimmy is Shawn’s oldest and closest friend as well as a former employee, but all bets are off after Jimmy killed Shawn’s son who was about to murder Jimmy’s son, Mike, in the action thriller Run All Night.
Back in the day, Jimmy was a professional hitman and enforcer for Shawn but more recently he’s been trying to forget the faces of all those he murdered by drinking himself into oblivion. Barely on speaking terms with his estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), a former boxer who now drives a limo for a living and has never had anything to do with his father’s business, Jimmy is surprised to get a call from Shawn asking him to go and talk to Mike on his behalf. It seems Mike witnessed Shawn’s son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), murder two possible business associates when a deal fell through. Unwilling to do what his father has instructed him to do (stand down and leave it alone), Danny goes to Mike’s home and tries to kill him but is shot dead by Jimmy before he can pull his trigger.
Knowing how this will play out after so many years of working for Shawn, Jimmy convinces an unwilling Mike to trust him for just one night in an effort to try to save his son, his son’s pregnant wife, and their two daughters. Together the two of them must go on the run in New York City, avoiding corrupt cops, contract killers, and mob informants, all while trying to get Mike’s family out of town and safely hidden. While struggling to keep Mike alive, Jimmy must use what few options he has left (and his own particular set of skills!) to find a way to stop Shawn from killing his only son.
Gritty and suspenseful, Run All Night is a dark and slick crime thriller that’s a cut above the usual Neeson action films with its furious direction by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop) and the strong performances by Neeson and Harris. Liam Neeson delivers a pitch perfect performance as Jimmy, a former expert hitman who regrets the choices he made in life and is determined to save his son at all costs. Ed Harris delivers a strong and deeper than expected performance as Shawn, the Irish mob boss seeking vengeance for the murder of his son by his best friend. The pain and heartbreak he subtly shows while telling his wife about the death of their son is uncomfortable and emotional. Some of the best scenes in the film are between Neeson and Harris.
The car chases, shoot-outs, a fight to the death in a bathroom, the escaping of a burning building, and other action scenes are extremely fast–paced and filled with tension. The hectic, almost frenzied camera work covering different parts of New York City adds an intensity and urgency to the pacing of the film.
Perhaps the only drawback to Run All Night is that it starts to become predictable in the third act, borrowing and following the last act formula from other great gangster films such as The Public Enemy starring James Cagney and Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks. Still, with its intense direction, exhilarating action scenes, and solid performances by Neeson and Harris, Run All Night is one of the better, more enjoyable crime thrillers to hit the big screen in the last few years.
MPAA rating: R for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use
Running time: 114 minutes
Release date: March 13, 2015
– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
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