SYNOPSIS: Brooklyn mobster and prolific hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson), once known as The Gravedigger, has seen better days. Longtime best friend of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Harris), Jimmy, now 55, is haunted by the sins of his past—as well as a dogged police detective (D’Onofrio) who’s been one step behind Jimmy for 30 years. Lately, it seems Jimmy’s only solace can be found at the bottom of a whiskey glass.
But when Jimmy’s estranged son, Mike (Kinnaman), becomes a target, Jimmy must make a choice between the crime family he chose and the real family he abandoned long ago. With Mike on the run, Jimmy’s only penance for his past mistakes may be to keep his son from the same fate Jimmy is certain he’ll face himself…at the wrong end of a gun. Now, with nowhere safe to turn, Jimmy just has one night to figure out exactly where his loyalties lie and to see if he can finally make things right.
Honestly, one has to admit that someday the mobsters, the petty street thugs, the crooked cops and government agents of the world will finally get it through their thick skulls that one should never, ever mess with Liam Neeson’s family! It’s certainly not for the lack of his perfecting the art of going all out to protect his loved ones. In the meantime, he keeps getting better at it and audiences tend to agree as long as they keep getting action pictures as straightforward and robustly satisfying as “Run All Night.”
Teaming up again with director Jaume Collet-Saure ("Unknown, 2011" & "Non-Stop, 2014"), "Run All Night" is a gripping, entirely predictable ticking-clock thriller that brings together a host of great characters, treating audiences to a taste of New York-centric cop movies of days gone by. It’s pretty impressive how the film’s integration of the city’s topography and architecture plays into its most ambitious action sequences, from a palpably tense car chase through the streets of Brooklyn (ultimately ending, in a slickly-done visual shortcut [CGI], at a pawn shop in Queens), to great visuals on the “Big Apple’s” skyline.
Neeson’s (well worn) performance as a dad out to save the life of his decent, family-man son isn't what entirely fuels "Run All Night." But rather, it’s an electrifying group of actors; specifically Ed Harris as his friend-turned nemesis, and Joel Kinnaman (RoboCop, 2014) playing his deeply disturbed son, elevating the flick by creating characters you either care about or simply loath. Also turning in fine performances are rap artist turned actor, Common as a Terminator-resilient hit man and Vincent D'Onofrio as one of the few honest NYPD cops out to carry out the letter of the law. Miami-born, Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6, 2014) and Nick Nolte (Gangster Squad, 2012) round out the supporting cast for this flick.
The best moment of the flick, however, has nothing to do with crazy car chases, bullets flying everywhere or great back-drops. It's more precisely an intense meet-up between Neeson and Harris that reminds us of that tense exchange between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in (one of my all-time favorites) Michael Mann's "Heat" (1995). The heavily lidded looks, the inevitable realization that all will end badly is sure to ratchet up our emotional investment in the movie and characters. The two veteran actors couldn't be better in conveying that sense of dread.
Overall, this latest Neeson effort will be amongst one of his better releases in recent times. If one is seeking some good action-laden entertainment in theaters, this is certainly worth checking out. Three and a half stars out of five is the best I can bestow upon it at the moment because it did have the few (but far apart) slow sequences to it that seemed to drag on at times, but largely in the end it redeemed itself.
By Movi-Man Stan
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