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2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Run All Night
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by Jay Seaver

"They've gotten too old for this shit."
2 stars

There's no shame in buying a ticket for "Run All Night" on the basis of "Liam Neeson versus Ed Harris"; the two are commanding actors who, near as I can tell, have not worked together before. In fact, they're good enough that it may take all the way until their big showdown to realize that this sort of action movie is far from the best showcase for these particular men in their mid-sixties. Do we really want to see them hobbling after each other at the climax?

Truth be told, Neeson's late-career run as an action hero has never really made sense. It started with Luc Besson matching him with a character whose greatest asset was an intimidating voice and stature, brutally finishing confrontations before his opponent knew what was happening, but every movie since Taken has tried to fit him into ever-more elaborate action sequences that he's just not suited for. And so it is here; he's not turning in his best work, but he's still convincing as a man whom a lifetime of violence has worn down, but who can summon authority when need be. It's understandable why people keep giving him these roles when the story becomes about his Jimmy Conlon, but just as obvious he should move on when the action requires him to run or exchange more than a punch or two.

Similarly, Ed Harris makes a great villain; he's got the weathered face of someone who has survived all comers and can seem to project immense conviction through his lean frame when called for. He's more suited to westerns where the ability and willingness to get the first shot is what's crucial, rather than any sustained fight or chase, but he fortunately doesn't have to be as active as Neeson does. He does well playing this sort of hard veteran, and builds every scene he's got with either Neeson or any other actor as something genuine, fueled by a good measure of grief an later fury.

In this case, that comes when his former crime boss Shawn Maguire loses his son. Danny Maguire (Boyd Holbrook) is a punk eager to follow in his father's footsteps who gets into a bad situation with some Albanian drug dealers. The hitch is that the Albanians came to their meeting with Danny in a car driven by Jimmy's son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), and no matter how far back Jimmy and Shawn go, or how many people Jimmy killed on Shawn's behalf back in the day, Shawn isn't about to let either Conlon live after this.

There are hints that writer Brad Ingelsby is trying for something grand here, with the generational story with a web of long, fraught relationships that carry a little more heft than might be expected from this sort of action movie, but it's not quite there. Every element from outside the Conlons and Maguires, whether Vincent D'Onofrio's detective or Common's younger assassin, feels like it's pulling away from the core of the story, while other areas are under-explored - all of the women are off to the side, and Nick Nolte's extended cameo feels like something from another draft. Somewhere, between Inglesby and director Jaume Collet-Serra, the operatic elements get lost. Whichever is responsible for opening on a flash-forward to the end should also stop and think about what they've done; it's one of the more thrill-sucking uses of a technique that needs a really good payoff to work.

Run All Night still works fairly well as an action movie, though. Collet-Serra and his crew spend a lot of time in the back alleys and rough neighborhoods of New York, and even if it's mostly a look at those environments as seen in other movies, the atmosphere is right for the story, giving it a sense of place. Collet-Serra does tend to undercut that by using a lot of flashy, over-produced transitions, though. And in a multiplex where action movies are too often made by the likes of Olivier Megaton, Collet-Serra's basic competence at doing things like keeping both parties in a char chase in the same shot or setting up what Jimmy's about to do rather than just cutting it to pieces is something of a relief.

There's worse ways to spend an afternoon at the movies right now, especially since nothing with Ed Harris in it is likely to be a total wash. Still, the most memorable image from this chase movie is two guys who shouldn't be running any more, and the material around it is just not good enough to make up for that.

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originally posted: 03/16/15 03:44:59
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User Comments

10/18/15 mr.mike Pretty good DVD rental. 4 stars
4/26/15 The Big D 1 star for entertainment; 5 stars for showing how grim and depressing organized crime is. 3 stars
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  13-Mar-2015 (R)
  DVD: 16-Jun-2015


  DVD: 16-Jun-2015

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