Run All Night’s primary purpose is to fill a market niche opposite Cinderella, but it’s a more than serviceable action movie in its own right.
It’s a story of parallels between Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), a drug lord with his life together and a screw-up son (Boyd Holbrook), and Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), his old friend and hitman who descended into alcoholism over the memories of his murders with an on-the-right-tracks son (Joel Kinnaman). Mike Conlon (Kinnaman) works as a limo driver, and the plot jumpstarts when he witnesses Danny Maguire (Holbrook) killing a client. Jimmy Conlon is forced to kill Danny Maguire, sending his father on a vendetta against the Conlons.
It’s a great story with a lot of potential, not all of it realized. The basic elements are there — a large-scale chase scene driving the plot, a character one could care about in Jimmy Conlon. He’s got a lot of regret and a son that hates him, and those are universally sympathetic traits.
This is the movie in Neeson’s little “I do stage combat” run that would benefit the most from him not being on it. He and Harris absolutely light up the screen, and Kinnaman’s star is still rising, though he’s mostly reprising his brooding hero from Robocop.
These strengths oddly double as the film’s weaknesses because they just aren’t strong enough to carry the film on their own. This movie only reaches about 60 percent of its potential, and for the worst reason — I’m not quite sure. There’s nothing particular to point to that it doesn’t do, you’re just expecting a little bit more out of every scene. This film is a sensible chuckle that feels like it should have been a gutbuster. There’s shootouts galore, an apartment burns down — for a sensible reason, even — there’s even a surprise lightsaber fight, but it just isn’t enough, somehow.
Despite this being one of his better scripts, audiences are just tired of Bryan Mills. This is the sixth movie Neeson has spent as a repentance-driven action star in the past four years. No matter how else it’s dressed up, people are simply bored with the act.
Leopold Knopp is a formerly professional film critic, licensed massage therapist and journalism student at the University of North Texas. The thing about frying oil is — it jumps. I’ve had a change of heart about reader input. It is now welcomed and encouraged. Like Reel Entropy on Facebook, follow it on Twitter when I can be bothered to make one, and shoot questions to reelentropy@.