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Neeson Fires More Guns in Entertaining ‘Run All Night’

RunAllNight_TeaserPosterStop me if you’ve heard this one before: Liam Neeson plays an alcoholic absentee father who carries a gun and must save the save the day.

“Run All Night” stars Neeson as a former mob hitman who goes on the run (you know, all night long) with his son (Joel Kinnaman) after he kills the son of a mob boss (played by Ed Harris).  Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed Neeson in “Unknown” and “Non-Stop”, directs here.

You’ve seen this movie before. Heck, you’ve seen Liam Neeson make this movie before. And it could have been just another Liam Neeson shoot-em-up in the post-Taken universe, if not for a handful of dedicated performances and well-staged action scenes.

Liam Neeson has rebranded himself as the 60-year-old guy with a gun, and to mixed results. The first “Taken” is fun, while its sequels are average and awful (the latter coming this past January). I liked “Unknown”, but “Non-Stop” was a little too stupid me. “Run All Night” is the best film Liam has been in since the first “Taken”, and I really enjoyed it.

All the actors in the film seem to really be having a good time, while simultaneously giving their all. Neeson and Kinnaman (who portrayed RoboCop last year) have the proper amount of chemistry needed for the kind of strained father-son relationship they’re portraying. I wasn’t a fan of Kinnaman’ stoic face in “RoboCop”, but here it works, playing a son who doesn’t want to open up to a father who was never there.

Common shows up as an assassin hired to hunt down Neeson and Kinnaman, and while I’m still not convinced he’s in this for any reason but to sell more tickets, his character was an interesting addition to the film. It’s also worth noting that in a film that features Liam Neeson, Ed Harris and Nick Nolte (eight nominations between them), Common is the only actor in this movie with an Oscar (for Best Song this past year).

Most of the action is shot very well, and is separated by enough human drama to give the film some depth. I thought both “Unknown” and “Non-Stop” were inhibited by their PG-13 rating, and it is clear director Collet-Serra is taking advantage of his R-rating here. This isn’t necessarily a shoot-em-up, but when guns are fired, most of the time it results in a headshot, which, as a 20-year-old guy, I’m not complaining.

There aren’t too many missteps with “Run All Night”. One thing the film does consistently is aerial shots from one location to another, flying over a clearly CGI New York City, so that irked me for whatever reason. The film’s climax is also just a *little* bit drawn out, especially because, thanks to the movie’s trailers and opening sequence, we can guess the outcome.

“Run All Night” is probably the best of the post-Taken Liam Neeson films, and is also, for what it’s worth, one of the best films of 2015. Neeson and Ed Harris have a fun scene of verbal back-and-forth, and there are several cat-and-mouse scenes with well-executed tension. I really enjoyed this film, and am glad to see Neeson making movies that aren’t “Taken 3” and “Million Ways to Die in the West”.

Critics Rating: 7/10