The lessons of “Run All Night” remain quite poignant. A single moment in time can change a person’s life. Our lives can be fulfilled or empty and full of regret, all according to the choices and decisions that we have made. “The Grave Digger”, Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson), is all too familiar with dangerous predicaments, but this time his actions have finally caught up with him. Within 16 hours, the characters in this story experience a range of emotions; ranging from laughter to tears. Our story begins in a flashback sequence, Jimmy Conlon narrating, remembering his regrets. He states that “sins of the father shall be visited by the son. No sin goes unpunished.” How one lives will determine the ultimate consequences of the future. These universal truths are transcended into the lives of the characters purveying a gritty experience of realism.
Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) and Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) grew up together on the streets of Brooklyn in New York City. They both were heavily involved in criminal activities for several years and supposedly formed an unbreakable bond. Shawn says “We’ll cross the line together,” which means “We came in together, we’ll go out together.” As Shawn existed as an unscrupulous, conniving Irish Mob Boss, Jimmy acquired the role as his hired hit man. Jimmy laments about his unforgettable nightmares, which only reflect his prior barbarous killings. He subdues his woes by becoming a drunkard. Over the years, he and his son, Michael (Joel Kinneman of RoboCop 2014), became estranged due to Jimmy’s poor choice of lifestyle. He tries to make amends with Michael before it is too late.
An arrogant and impetuous, Daniel Maguire (Boyd Holbrook) makes a deal with the Albanians for Heroin storage and accepts a substantial amount of money. To his dismay, his father rejects the deal, causing Danny to make hard-fast decisions on his own. Michael happens to be on scene when the Albanians come to retrieve their stash. Danny opts to eradicate all involved, even witnesses. Shawn Maguire convinces his son not to do anything rash, but Danny is stubbornly determined to finish what he started. Danny foolishly tries to kill Michael. Jimmy uses his seasoned, killer-instincts to protect his son. Weary and frustrated, Jimmy calls his long-time friend, Shawn to tell him that he has killed Danny.
As a vengeful father, Shawn, vows to exterminate Jimmy, his son Michael, and anyone who gets in the way. “An Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” so to speak. Shawn states “I want you to suffer as I have. You have taken my son, now I will take yours… and then, you can you come back and die.”
Michael tells the police about the murder and is entrapped by them. As events unfold, everything is turned upside down, leaving both Michael and Jimmy Conlon as fugitives from the police, while simultaneously trying to avoid Shawn Maguire’s wrath. They encounter NYPD police as well as Maguire’s henchmen, who Jimmy knows entirely too well. Jimmy knows what he must do to save his son. Whatever it takes to stay alive. This forces them into a game of cat and mouse, leaving no choice but to “Run All Night”. Michael is confused about what he sees with his own eyes and what truths his father is trying to show and tell. All the while, Jimmy promises to make things right asking his son not to repeat his mistakes.
In addition, to the recent developments of mayhem, Shawn hires an assassin named Mr. Price (Common) to tie up any loose strings. Price is a worthy, formidable and more than willing opponent for Jimmy- the “No holds barred killer”. This hellish eradicator proves to be relentless and will stop at nothing to execute both Michael and Shawn.
Liam Neeson’s character, Jimmy is ashamed and regrets the decisions that he has made, vowing to try to make things right again. Throughout, he trusts that son, Michael remains a trustworthy and honest man. A man once loyalty to Shawn Maguire, Jimmy is clever and adroit, while interjecting witticisms in the face of danger. Neeson conveys a coolness and unsuspecting confidence, leaving one perplexed about the true nature of the character. At times he is sincere; at others he depicts a cold calculating murderer. Death surrounds him. Conlon teeters on the edge between visceral and deliberate. But his revelations finally come at his finest moments. He makes a genuine attempt to bond with son, Michael and protect the ones he loves, but there is a cost for his murderous life, an ultimate penalty he’s willing to pay.
“Run All Night” delivers an action-packed graphic account of the possibilities and consequences of criminal behavior. Certainly, if I were backed into a corner, found myself in a quandary with the authorities or barricaded (gunfight at the OK corral); Liam Neeson’s character might very-well be at the top of my list for 1st line of defense. Director Jaume Collet-Serra teams up with Neeson once again, following their collaborations of the psychological thriller “Unknown” and the mystery action thriller “Non-Stop. Writer Brad Ingslby jumps right in after writing “Out of the Furnace” starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Willem Defoe, Sam Shepard, and Zoe Saldana. Cinematic close-up shots by Martin Rue, add to Jimmy’s character as he transitions back and forth between a stone-cold killer to loving father. An aerial view of Danny Maguire’s pursuit of Michael Conlon gives the audience a wider perspective of insight and sense of dire urgency. Music by Junkie XL and sound effects enhances the tone; sustaining suspense throughout the film.
New York City was the perfect backdrop for this movie. “Run All Night” gives reverence to “Bullitt” (1968), the granddaddy of car chases by Steve McQueen and the “French Connection” (1971) chase with Gene Hackman.
One thing rings true….You can “Run All Night”, but alas when the morning comes….In the end it all comes down to what one would be willing to do.
Although this is similar to many action films and a bit lengthy; it held my attention and I liked the development of characters. I’d give this film 3 out of 5 stars.
Reviewed at AMC Cicero, March 13, 2015. Running time: 114 MIN.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Screenplay by Brad Ingelsby.
Warner Bros. release in association with Ratpac-Dune Entertainment of Vertigo Entertainment production. Produced by Roy Lee, Brooklyn Weaver, Michael Tadross. Executive producers, Steven Mnuchin, Jaume Collet-Serra, John Powers Middleton.
Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lois Smith, Common, Beau Knapp, Patricia Kalember, Daniel Stewart Sherman, James Martinez, Rasha Bukvic, Tony Naumovski, Lisa Branch, Holt McCallany, Aubrey Omari Joseph, Giulia Cicciari, Carrington Meyer.