We are getting to the stage now where it’s difficult to distinguish which Liam Neeson action film is which. In a bid to confuse us that little bit more comes Run All Night, a film that sees the veteran action star re-team with Jaume Collet-Serra, the director of 2011’s Unknown.
After getting wrapped up in the death of mobster Shawn Maguire’s (Ed Harris) son, Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman) becomes a target himself. With the help of his estranged father, retired enforcer Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), Mike must survive the night evading the corrupt NYPD, gangsters, and hitmen.
More in the mould of the impressive A Walk Among the Tombstones than Taken 3, Run All Night is filled with pulpy violence and the underworld grime of a seventies crime-thriller. Thanks to the night-time, working class New York setting, Collet-Serra’s film is atmospheric and packed with the brooding character of the city. Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon is similarly dark – this dinosaur of past-gangland is a broken man – estranged from his son and grandchildren, borrowing money from seedy gangsters, and making drunken spectacles out of himself – an unintentionally amusing highlight sees him intoxicated, playing Santa at a children’s Christmas party.
With this territory comes the estranged father reconnecting with his son narrative, with the pair gradually bonding through their shared experience. This serves as a simple vessel for the film’s plethora of muscle-pounding action scenes – from brutal fights in derelict subway toilets to a hitman (Common) chase in a burning flat block, Collet-Serra handles each solidly with Neeson ever-watchable as the action hero. There’s an impressively handled tension in set pieces – particularly in the film’s forest set conclusion. However, like most of Neeson’s recent output these scenes are more serviceable than memorable. A showdown with Ed Harris’s character at an abandoned rail yard is a scene that reeks with a tiresome familiarity – like so many in Run All Night.
Fortunately, there is an impressive cast on hand to keep proceedings ticking along nicely. Neeson is the rock at the centre of this piece and remains a likeable and engaging screen presence, whilst Kinnaman takes on the role of Mike with sleepwalking ease. Harris is a pleasure to watch as Jimmy’s tough-talking gangland opponent, whilst a cameo from Nick Nolte provides a welcome spot of gravel voiced dramatics.
Run All Night is an inoffensive, easy-watch. Fans of Neeson’s action hero persona will lap this up, others are likely to find this more than a little over-familiar and tiresome. Impressive star turns and a brooding seventies’ crime thriller atmosphere help this stand as one Neeson’s better recent flicks.