One lesson people need to understand about Liam Neeson movies. Never mess with his family.
In Run All Night, renowned hitman Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) has to protect his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) from his best friend and mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) after Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) dies indirectly because of Mike. With the entire police force and hired guns after Jimmy and Mike, father and son are forced to work through their issues to survive the night and save Mike and his family from certain death.
The plot seems formulaic from the beginning, especially since Liam Neeson is known for his iconic role of Brian Mills in the Taken franchise. Sure, there were some adjustments as Jimmy Conlon is a hitman, and Bryan was more of a Black Ops CIA type of dude but both stories basically involves Liam saving his on-screen children from the bad guys. While it would seem unoriginal, it was a great marketing decision to involve Neeson in this movie because his reputation alone guarantees that people will pay to watch him take on insurmountable odds and emerge victorious in the process.
Unlike Taken however, the characters of Mike and Jimmy had a lot of issues that gets in the way of working together to survive the night. While I could not fault the character of Mike for being surly and not trusting his dad (he had a ton of daddy issues), I could not help but feel annoyed that he would go out of his way to treat his father like dirt, especially since his dad was the only thing protecting him and his family from the baddies trying to kill them. I felt that the daddy issues really ate at the potential of touching family moments that made the Taken movies so relatable and effective. What I loved about this film was actually the dynamics between Jimmy and his bestie Shawn. Because the characters were played by top notch actors, the relationship had a certain depth to it that makes each scene between the duo so poignant and so gut wrenching — even their last scene was so emotionally charged despite the silence.
The action in this movie was nothing to scoff at. There were car chases. There were gunfights. There was parkour and hand to hand combat and there was a respectable body count at the end of the movie. Kudos to the filmmakers for the pacing and for keeping audiences on their toes.
All in all, Run All Night was a good action movie. True, there were plenty of times that audiences would get the urge to smack Joel Kinnaman for disrespecting Liam Neeson, but this does not affect the overall impact of the movie in its totality. Unfortunately, the film suffers in comparison to other Liam Neeson starrers because the premise was just too similar and the execution did not manage to surpass the awesomeness of previous films. But I guess it was a handicap that the filmmakers were prepared for going into production. And at the end of the day, they managed to come out with a good product so I shall not begrudge them a well deserved pat on the back.