MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Run All Night’ Is A Complete Misfire

Film: Run All Night
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra

Run All Night is not a great film. Between the ridiculous transitional sequences, mediocre acting, and a script that feels as if it is missing thirty pages, the latest feature from Non-Stop director Jaume Collet-Serra is one of the worst crime dramas in recent memory. That’s not to say it is entirely his fault, as there are many moving parts at play here, but given the sizable cast of notable talents and relatively straightforward plot it would seem someone at the helm need be held responsible for this certified misfire.

Jimmy Conlin (Liam Neeson) is a career felon who has carried out whatever horrific task his boss and friend, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), has asked of him. He’s never been caught, though the cops do know of his work, but in order to maintain his lifestyle Jimmy has been forced to push everyone in his life further and further away. Now that he’s older, Jimmy regrets this path, and he seems to believe he will eventually die alone, likely while in the midst of another drunken stupor.

Mike Conlin (Joel Kinnaman), Jimmy’s son, has worked his entire life to become the man his father never attempted to be. He has a wife and two daughters, a steady job as a limo driver, and a clean record. He’s never shot a gun, never sold a narcotic, and knows almost nothing about the man who helped bring him into this world aside from the fact he’s a drunken mess who rarely makes it a point to visit. That said, he can’t help feeling a connection to Jimmy, even though they have never really known one another.

One night, Mike witnesses the death of several Albanian drug dealers at the hands of Shawn’s son, Danny. Before he can escape, Danny notices Mike, and before another moment can pass Danny decides Mike must not make it through the night. Mike could stay and fight, but he chooses to flee, which leads Danny to call his father. Shawn asks his son to let him sort out the situation, but Danny decides to take matters into his own hands, and in doing so becomes the latest person to lose their life at the hands of Jimmy Conlin. This starts a war between the two lifelong friends, and before the night is over one of them will be dead.

With a plot like this, Run All Night should be a fast-paced thriller that opens like a shotgun blast and never calms down, but that could not be further from the truth. Aside from some well made transitional sequences, there is almost no sense of flow or cohesion to this entire film. Jaume Collet-Serra moves from scene to scene with fluidity unmatched by his peers, but cannot capture a single moment between actors that feels like genuine emotion. Instead, he creates something like a roller coaster, with ups and downs unfolding left and right without a single moment of true tension existing. You don’t worry about the characters, nor do you feel the need to root for them. In fact, you never really have a reason to care at all, and that makes the film’s near two-hour runtime feel like an unending slog

Liam Neeson has never appeared as tired or as bored with crime as he does in this film. After spending the bulk of the last decade shooting his way through revenge film after revenge film, it seems the actor has finally begun to tire of his action star persona. There is nothing to Jimmy Conlin we haven’t seen displayed through other characters aside from maybe the way regret weighs on his shoulders. Even that, while interesting, is never leveraged into any truly meaningful. It’s nice to know Jimmy has regrets, but if they ultimately lead him down the same path he has always followed does their existence really make any difference at all?

Ed Harris, taking yet another turn as the lead bad guy in a film not worth his caliber of talent, shines during his time on screen. Collet-Serra may not know how to shoot a gritty crime story, but Harris definitely knows how to act in one, and he does his best to raise the film from the depths of mediocrity every time he graces the screen. Unfortunately, those moments are too few and far between to make much of an impact on the story as a whole.

The film’s only other redeeming quality is its supporting cast, though their performances rarely touch the heights of previous roles. Joel Kinnaman, coming off the lackluster Robocop reboot, does his best to make Mike a real person without coming across as trying too hard to match wits with Neeson. It’s a solid turn, so much so that it may be the best delivery in the entire film, but it’s likely not memorable enough to win him additional roles. That is not as much Kinnaman’s fault as it is the script he has been given to work with, but it’s truth nonetheless. Likewise, Vincent D’Onofio’s turn as a cop hoping to finally bring Jimmy to justice is as underutilized as a character capable of altering the entire story’s trajectory could be. He seems to exist solely so the film can hint at his character having great purpose, but in the end he’s just another pawn being moving from set piece to set piece in hopes of creating some semblance of tension.

I can admit that Jaume Collet-Serra crafted something original and somewhat enthralling with Non-Stop, not to mention the his other recent work, but Run All Night proves there are limits to the filmmaker’s talent. He may be able to create high-gloss worlds where violence and heroism collide, but that is not the type of story being told in Run All Night. This is supposed to be a gritty and dark story about criminal best friends who turn on one another following a heartbreaking encounter that never should have occurred. The themes and topics are so heavy you feel another, better skilled filmmaker could have brought you to tears, but as is the film is far too smooth to ever even hint at a moment capable of creating a real connection with the viewers. It all just happens, one scene after another, until a conclusion not that unlike the final moments of Non-Stop brings things to a close. It’s fitting, but incredibly underwhelming, much like the rest of the film.


Grade: D+

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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