Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Running Time: 109 mins
Run All Night is an American film about a former mobster, haunted by his past, who finds himself hunted by the city’s biggest crime boss after he admits that he was the one who killed his son.
Whilst I can’t say that Run All Night is the breathless, intense and powerful thriller that it wants to be, I can say that it is still an impressively gritty take on the genre, as well as a surprisingly interesting watch. Its strong performances lend an unexpected level of depth to its characters, making it more than just an action movie, and the fact that it doesn’t hold back when it comes to violence or emotional drama was great to see.
Let’s start on that note, because there is actually a lot more depth to this film than you’d expect. Principally revolving around Liam Neeson’s character, we learn a lot about how this man’s life has gone downhill ever since his days in the mob, and his desperate sense of regret and sadness at his past actions and how they have impacted on the people around him.
Anything like that level of character development is pretty rare in modern action movies, which are usually content with an invincible and robotic action hero. Although Neeson’s character is still ridiculously skilled on the physical side, giving him this impressive level of depth and emotion was genuinely interesting to see, and allowed me to care a whole lot more about the plight of his character, as well as his desires to save those around him.
At times, even, the distress that we see Neeson show is quite distressing, which leads me onto my next point: the film’s grit. Again, this is a lot more than your average action thriller, as it features a lot more violence than most that feels even darker when matched with some of the emotional grit we see in the characters. That may put some people off, but I was impressed to see that Run All Night doesn’t hold back when it comes to the violent side of things, making for a far more engaging watch than a generic and sterilised action flick.
All that said, there are still things about this film that aren’t so great. For one, whilst Liam Neeson’s character is interesting, and makes the story a lot more engaging, the rest of the main players aren’t so much. Whilst Ed Harris and Joel Kinnaman give decent performances, their characters aren’t quite as deep or riveting as Neeson’s, and that means that when their sides of the story are given more focus, it’s a lot less engrossing.
Also, the plot as a whole isn’t the most unpredictable. Whilst the development of the main character made for an interesting watch, I would have liked to see a little more originality in the plot. The all-nighter genre is one that can make for some simultaneously exhuasting and entertaining watches, but the way that this film followed a relatively generic plot formula was a little disappointing to see.
Overall, however, I was surprised by Run All Night. Although it doesn’t quite achieve its ambition of being a great and truly exhilarating thriller, it does have an impressive level of grit that, when combined with some interesting character development, makes for a far more engaging watch than I could have ever expected, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.