Run All Night (2015)
Run All Night is a neo-noir with an above average cast (Neeson, Ed Harris, Vincent D'Onofrio and even Nick Nolte). The screenplay by Brad Ingelsby (who co-wrote the similarly hyperbolic Out of the Furnace) is based around the perennial theme of family feuds in the New York's gangster community. It's a plot device that’s been the mainstay of many a movie over the years but few of any outstanding quality. However, Run All Night has the benefits of two strong leads and an exceptional visual aesthetic, that elevate it above the mundane. Narrative weakness is countered with strong performances and the inherent charisma of Neeson and Harris.
Neeson once again slips into ageing celtic alpha male routine as Jimmy Conlon, a veteran Brooklyn hitman. Hard drinking and estranged from his family, Jimmy is haunted by the memories of his victims and seeks redemption. Ed Harris plays Shawn Maguire, the local Crime Boss and Jimmy's friend for many years. He too is reflecting upon his choices and trying to go straight. Both men are fathers. Neeson's boy Mike (Joel Kinnaman) hates his dad and wants nothing to do with him or his lifestyle. Maguire's son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) is the opposite and is attracted to the criminal lifestyle and seeks personal advancement among the criminal fraternity. When circumstances lead to Jimmy killing Danny to protect Mike, friendships are set aside, resulting in a life or death chase across the city at night.
Visually, Run All Night is stunning. The director Jaume Collet-Serra has an aptitude for capturing New York at night. Director of photography Martin Ruhe creates an atmosphere of fear and trepidation with his lighting and framing of high-rise buildings, subways, diners and railway tracks. It most certainly revitalises what is a somewhat tired and over used visual convention. The fluid and mobile cinematography greatly adds to the narrative and the sense of tension. Sadly the screenplay is not so consistent. The first two acts of the movie are tonally geared towards a more philosophical drama. The third act changes tack and settles for an action based approach.
When you stop to analyse various character’s behaviour in Run All Night, very little of it makes any sense. However, the story moves at such a fast pace that it's only after viewing the film that it’s deficiencies become apparent. Harris and Neeson save the movie from some of its failing. Both actors are always interesting to watch and Harris is under appreciated by his peers, in my book. Run All Night ultimately plays out like a variation of Road to Perdition, although it lacks the polish and depth of that movie. Overall it is a cut above the increasingly lacklustre Taken franchise and it’s at least nice to see a thriller come action movie, that doesn't back pedal and seek the mass market appeal of a PG-13 rating.