“I’ve done terrible things in my life,” Liam Neeson’s haunted Irish Mobster mournfully intones in his latest collaboration with Jaume Collet-Serra (who directed him in Unknown and Non-Stop) Run All Night, “Things for which I can never be forgiven.” And he’s not just talking about his career low-points like Satisfaction and High Spirits.

A washed-up, alcoholic figure of ridicule in New York’s Irish Mob, Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon used to be the city’s top triggerman, a ruthless, feared assassin known as The Gravedigger, whose very particular set of murderous skills were responsible for the rise of best buddy and gang boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). But that was 30 years ago and while Maguire’s practically a legitimate businessman these days, Conlon’s a has-been, a hanger-on, demeaning himself working as a gofer for Maguire’s loose-cannon cokehead son Danny (Boyd Holbrook). Estranged from his own son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), a straight-arrow ex-boxer, and haunted by the ghosts of his past, by the memories of his victims and by New York’s seemingly only honest cop, Detective Harding (Vincent D’Onofrio), Conlon finds his only respite lies at the bottom of a whiskey bottle.

But when Mike witnesses Danny murder a couple of Albanian gangsters over a failed heroin deal one frosty Christmas Eve, Conlon finds himself back in the firing line, forced to kill Danny to save his son. Thrown together, father and son find themselves the most wanted men in New York, on the run from gangsters, corrupt cops and a relentless professional assassin (Common). If Conlon and Mike are going to make it through the night, they’re going to have to put aside their differences in a desperate attempt to survive as the sins of the father threaten to destroy them both.

Whether it’s Oirish gangsters, skyjacking terrorists, predatory serial killers, Sith Lords or great big wolves, you’d think by now everyone would know not to fuck with Liam Neeson. Thankfully, the Irish Mob seem not to have got the memo as Neeson reteams for a third time with Collet-Saura for this fleet-footed crime drama that compresses a lifetime of regret, anguish, guilt and violence into a compact 16-hour frame which allows Neeson’s over-the-hill killer to find redemption by betraying his crime family in favour of the flesh-and-blood family he abandoned years before.

Neeson, as ever, delivers; shouldering his way through the film like a bull in a china shop, laying low all who dare oppose him, decades of guilt and regret etched across his craggily handsome face and Kinnaman is fine as his respectable, if rather tight-arsed, son who chose the straight and narrow. But where Run All Night really succeeds is in it’s supporting cast with the wonderfully jittery Holbrook, typically strong turns from D’Onofrio and Bruce McGill, a Terminator-like relentless Common (as the assassin who can’t seem to shoot straight), not to mention a stunt cameo by Nick Nolte as Neeson’s brother looking like a bathrobed Ernest Hemingway. But perhaps for the first-time since he assumed the mantle of everyone’s favourite super-annuated action man, Neeson’s actually up against a believable threat in the wonderful Ed Harris’ Maguire who’s virtually an older, wiser version of the coldly ambitious gangster he played in State Of Grace. Indeed the film’s most affecting moments aren’t those of clichéd father and son bonding and recrimination, but the quiet scenes between Harris and Neeson, whether it’s hungover reminiscing, terse phonecalls or tense sitdowns there’s a real melancholy undercurrent to the furiously paced Run All Night courtesy of Out Of The Furnace scribe Brad Ingelsby, love, honour, grief and familial loyalty souring a bromance built on decades of friendship and murder, each fatalistically commenting throughout the film “We cross that line together.”

While it’s every bit an effective action vehicle as Neeson and Collet-Saura’s previous collaborations with it’s intense, percussive gun battles, a nasty no-holds-barred fight that demolishes a public toilet and a breathless escape from a burning tower block, Run All Night may not break any new ground, recycling every gangster cliché in the book and drawing liberally on State Of Grace (one shootout a virtual recreation of that film’s climactic bloodbag-athon) and thematically on the mournful Road To Perdition to tell it’s tale of fathers, sons and capricious fate but, when it comes to superior action movie thrills, Neeson is the daddy.

DVD Review: Run All Night
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author