In Review: Run All Night

by Daniel Goodwin on 13/03/2015


Following mediocre, amnesia mystery Unknown (2011) and the slightly punchier Non-Stop (2014), director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson reunite for an action thriller about ageing, rival mobsters and their fractured families. Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon: a washed up gangster wrecked by sin, booze and regret after years of wrongdoing. Conlon haunts bars, desperate for redemption and is a laughing stock to his former associates but is forced into action by a threat to his son and ends up dodging bullets, hoodlums and bent cops to protect his estranged family.

After a cluttered set up, Run All Night hastily amps up the action as Conlon and son are propelled into a series of eye-blistering set-pieces and explosive confrontations. A spectacular car chase blasts across the screen in a stream of dirty neon and siren wails, swiftly followed by a gripping pursuit though an apartment block (by a psychotic gunman) and gnarly punch-ups with a glut of scumbags as the couple search for a key supporting character. Scenes between Conlon and Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), as old friends forced to become enemies, provide conflict and character complexity, as do moments between Jimmy and his father, played by a barely comprehensible Nick Nolte.

The character-based drama and pounding action reveals director Collet-Serra’s ability to work wonders with the right material, and Brad Ingelsby’s screenplay is, for the majority, a tense and unruly excursion, albeit into clichéd terrain. The story complements the action with sufficient, dramatic conflict and characters to genuinely care about. Along with a solid turn from Neeson, Ed Harris provides strong support as mob boss Maguire but director Collet-Serra hogs the limelight in the latter half with breathtaking suspense and action sequences.

Run All Night is huge, exhilarating entertainment strengthened by often tense but mostly template drama, decent performances and finely crafted set pieces that all serve the story. While its central concept is far from groundbreaking, and the characters are slightly beefed-up stereotypes, Run All Night generates trepidation via tight editing and finely crafted action. It also has surprising depth for a movie of its kind and is a significant step up for genre director Jaume Collet-Serra.

Daniel has awarded Run All Night three Torches of Truth

3 torches cropped

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