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New Release Review - Run All Night

A former mob hitman attempts to protect his estranged son from the men who want him dead.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Common, Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent D'Onofrio, Boyd Holbrook



The Liam Neeson geri-action steam train keeps chugging on, but at this stage of the journey we're no longer enjoying the ride, just choking on the fumes. Next up for Neeson is the Scorsese drama Silence, a significant change of pace which suggests Neeson may have realised he's entered the realm of self-parody at this stage. His second teaming with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, Run All Night aims to be a Greatest Hits of Neeson action, but plays more like a Zucker brothers spoof of the Irishman's late career reinvention.
Once again Neeson is cast as a stereotypical Irish drunk, following similar offensive casting in A Walk Among the Tombstones and his previous Collett-Serra collaboration Non-Stop. This time he's Jimmy Conlon, an aging former hitman for New York's Irish mob, estranged from his son and haunted by the memories of his multiple killings (17 at the movie's start; a hell of a lot more by the end). His boss, stuck with the equally clich├ęd name of Shawn (no Irishman would adopt such a spelling) Maguire (Harris), keeps him around for old time's sake despite Jimmy being as useful as a dry Guinness barrel at a cop's wake.
The two men's friendship comes to an end when Jimmy's son Mike (Kinnaman) witnesses Shawn's son Danny (seriously Hollywood, very few Irish people have names like this in reality) offing a pair of Albanians (what is it with Neeson and Albanians?), a situation that ends with Jimmy putting a bullet in the back of Danny's bonce. With Shawn amassing an army of ham-faced, leather jacketed goons, Jimmy and Mike find themselves pursued in an all night chase across New York.
With not one but two jokes about Neeson's infamously large manhood, it's clear that these movies are now being tailored specifically for the actor's persona. He's in danger of becoming a human meme like Chuck Norris, and while his reinvention began to wear thin a few movies back, Run All Night is undoubtedly the point at which Neeson vaults over this particular shark. It's a movie that doesn't give two hoots about plausibility or continuity, but it's not one one you can enjoy ironically, as the filmmakers are in on the joke, one nobody else is laughing at.
At the start of the movie, Neeson's Jimmy is such a screwup that he can barely stand, yet as soon as he's called into action he immediately morphs into something closer to a Navy Seal than a burnt out mob hitman. Similarly, Harris's Shawn makes a loud point of informing us he's a legitimate businessman, yet seems to have the cast of The Sopranos in his employ. Questionable motivations abound, not least of all the Terminator-esque professional killer played by Common, who continues to pursue Jimmy and his son even when he no longer has any chance of being paid for his work. Most baffling of all is the random inclusion of Tom Cruise's mugshot in a family photo collage Kinnaman and his invisibly pregnant wife Rodriguez are assembling for their unborn son.
It should be impossible to make a dull chase movie but trust Collett-Serra to suck any potential energy out of his movie with his insistence on flashy visuals and over-editing of action scenes. In the Spaniard's hands, Run All Night becomes a movie that simply flashes before our eyes like platform billboards glimpsed through the windows of a speeding subway train. By the time we get the appearance of that most overused action movie location, the abandoned trainyard, it's clear that Neeson has sadly become the A-list Steven Seagal. He'll be meeting the Dalai Lama any day now.




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