Sunday, June 07, 2015

'Run All Night' Is a Liam Neeson Action Movie Done Right, Makes Up for 'Taken 3'

Ever since the first Taken movie transformed Liam Neeson (who was originally known for his dramatic turns) into a surprising 21st century badass action star, he has been mostly playing the same kind of role; his characters are basically following the template of Bryan Mills – the first of such kind of Liam Neeson action hero and, so far, still the best.  Hence, since his characters are seemingly the same, his movies – despite the differences in premises and plots – look seemingly the same.  It seems like a Liam Neeson-starred action movie is an entire genre of its own.  And though Neeson is talented (he was an Oscar nominee after all), magnetic, and likable, his presence alone can’t completely negate the one-dimensionality disadvantage that his movies have.  That’s why it’s important for a Liam Neeson movie to have an enjoyable and fresh story along with a compelling variation of Neeson’s Bryan Mills for it to work.  That’s something Run All Night is able to accomplish, in my opinion.

The movie sees Liam Neeson playing the role of Jimmy Conlon, a loyal hit man working for Brooklyn mob boss Shawn Maguire (played by Ed Harris).  The two go way back and have been best friends ever since.  One night, Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (played by Joel Kinnaman), who works as a chauffeur, witnesses Shawn’s son, Danny (played by Boyd Holbrook), kill the clients he is driving for the night, who happens to be Albanian mobsters involved in a sour heroin deal with Danny.  Despite being told by his father to keep still, Danny proceeds to go after Mike.  But before Danny can shoot Mike, Jimmy has no choice but to shoot him first, killing him, to save his son.  This incurs the vengeful wrath of a heartbroken Shawn as he mobilizes his entire organization to hunt down Jimmy and Mike.

Run All Night is not a flawless movie, but it isn’t an average dumb action movie either.  The plot is interesting, the character relationships have sophistication, and it has a heartfelt message.  There are a couple of notable action sequences and streetscape transitions that are beautifully shot.  And Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris, and Vincent Philip D'Onofrio delivered great performances.  Moreover, Neeson was really into his role – unlike earlier this year in Taken 3 where he was seemingly bored and tired of being Bryan Mills – probably because his character in Run All Night has, maybe, the most depth since his character in The Grey.

Run All Night is your typical Liam Neeson movie, but it’s the good, entertaining kind, and it’s a must watch for every Neeson fan who wants to wash away the bad taste of Taken 3.  

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