Run All Night – A Review

Liam Neeson films are generally as rigidly structured as a haiku. You have a mostly useless, probably haunted, normally drunk, violent auld fella who, via a series of fantastic circumstances, is offered a shot a redemption through violence. We’re given the alluring fantasy that you can make good by punching enough people in the throat.

Run All Night follows this template. Neeson plays a stock character nicknamed ‘Jimmy the Gravedigger’ who shoots a mob boss’ son while protecting his own kid, Mike. Ed Harris plays the crinkly, understandably annoyed mobster who puts his decades-old friendship with Jimmy aside in pursuit of revenge. All the pieces are in place for 2 hours of enjoyable B grade action. The director, Jaume Collet-Serra, helmed last years Non Stop, a critical flop that was actually diverting, silly fun as well as 2009’s great creepy kid movie Orphan.

What we actually get is a film which seems schizophrenic in its tone. On the one hand you have cardboard cut out baddies who have dedicated cocaine drawers and flashy, superfluous camera moves. On the other hand the action pauses constantly for characters to deliver monologues about the toll all this killing has taken on them and a voiceover that ponders what happens to us at the moment of death. It’s as if Schwarzenegger paused every ten minutes in Commando and soliloquised about the value of human life. This attempt at Mean Streets-esque gravitas sinks the whole thing.
Too daft to be a character piece and too self serious to be any craic; this feels like a film that can’t decide if it wants to be Taken or The Act of Killing and, amazingly, that’s a very bad combination.
Run All Night is in cinemas Friday 13th March.
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