Liam Neeson, now 62, seems to have become the go-to guy for action films, particularly since the success of the Taken franchise has made him a household name in this area. The third and most recent of those films took in $88 million domestically and more internationally. Neeson stumbled a bit at the box office with last fall’s very fine A Walk Among The Tombstones, but for my money, he nowhas put it all together in the superlative and gritty action drama Run All Night.
And if there is truth in advertising, that title certainly lives up to it. The film takes place over a tension-filled 16 hours as Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon, an aging and tired mob hitman, finds himself on the run with his innocent long-estranged son, limo driver Michael (Joel Kinnaman), from both his one-time colleagues in the mob as well as the NYPD detective (Vincent D’Onofrio) who has been trying to nail him for years. His main nemesis on this long evening, as well as his longtime friend, local mob boss Shawn Maguire (an excellent Ed Harris), is looking for revenge after Jimmy admits he killed his one and only son, a ne’er do well drug addict who is caught in the act of murder by eyewitness Michael, who is set up by the mob and becomes the target of everyone.
Neeson realizes as a father he can do something for his son, who has a wife and two young kids, and forces him to go on the lam with him in order to make things right. The plot may be a little far-fetched, and at times convoluted, but the pairing of Neeson and Harris makes this thing hum. To me it was reminiscent of those great ’40s film noirs or, even better, the tough-guy films of Cagney, Bogart and Edward G. Robinson during the heyday of Warner Bros.’ gangster period. It’s probably no accident Warners is the distributor here, and it’s fitting.
Neeson seems to be attracted to these tough-guy roles that blend violence and warm family moments, and he delivers here with one of his finest performances, as does the whole cast. The film was directed by Spanish helmer Jaume Collet-Serra, who guided Neeson in Non-Stop and Unknown but finally finds the right groove with the actor here. He also splendidly uses great NYC locations to add to the atmosphere of this edge-of-your-seat thriller scripted by Brad Ingelsby and produced by Roy Lee, Michael Tadross and Brooklyn Weaver.
Do you plan to see the film? Let us know what you think. Check out my video review above.