When he’s not being taken, you can find Liam Neeson doing his weary-eyed OAP ass-kicker routine with three-time collaborator Jaume Collet-Serra. Following 2011’s Unknown and last year’s ridiculous yet entertaining hijack-thriller Non-Stop, the Spanish-born director knows how to rinse out a satisfying turn from the Oscar-nominated action hero and their latest project, Run All Night, is no different.
Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) – a lonesome drunk and former hitman for mob boss/friend, Shaun Maguire (Ed Harris) – is haunted by his murderous past. Disowned by his family and with not a single penny to his name, he’s left begging for hand-outs from Shaun and his loose cannon of a son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook). When Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), ends up in the middle of a botched drug-deal, Conlon Snr. has to step in to protect his boy from a vengeful Maguire and his band of merry gangsters and contract killers.
While still appealing to the action-seekers with its shoot-em-ups, car chases and police raids, Run All Night tries to dig under its gangster-like exterior and grow a backbone. There’s very little original about Serra’s latest adventure, with its central character – very much like the booze-swigging, daughter-missing air marshal in Non-Stop – cut from the same blood-soaked cloth of other leading men types that have graced our screens over the years. Crime, corruption, family and loyalty – all issues that come together to form a successful, if not tired crime/thriller formula that, added together with a pinch of Neeson and a relatively well-executed father-son killing spree/bonding exercise, can still bring with it a modicum of excitement.
There’s a constant message echoed by Neeson’s Conlon to his squeaky-clean son about not following in his old man’s footsteps – one that is epitomised in predictably over-elaborate fashion as the mist sweeps in over the films dying moments. Thankfully Run All Night doesn’t overplay the father-son relationship to cringe-tastic effect, surprising in a film that, in a rather frank, murderous kind of way, is rather sentimental. Neither overly exciting or particularly menacing, Serra’s latest effort never quite delivers on the soulful gangster flick that it tries to be, yet still has enough character – and fisticuffs – to make it easily watchable.