Run All Night (2015)    2 Stars

“One night to settle the score.”

Run All Night (2015)
Run All Night (2015)


Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman

Synopsis: Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.




The third collaboration in four years between Liam Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra (following Unknown and Non-Stop) sees Neeson playing small-time hood Jimmy Conlon. We first meet Conlon as he nurses a fatal gunshot wound and reflects upon the terrible things he’s done in his life. Conlon’s a goner, then, which would make for a very short movie if it weren’t for the trusty flashback device, which whips us back 13 hours to find him a much different man. In fact, he’s something of a wretch; a stumbling drunk whose sympathetic boss, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris – Gravity, Frontera) keeps him on the payroll because of their long history together. The men share a past that saw Maguire become a criminal kingpin, and Conlon one of his footsoldiers, but both men have now forsaken the criminal life: Maguire because he has grown wealthy enough to lead an honest life, and Conlon because he’s sunk into drunken despair over the way he felt compelled to abandon his son, Michael (Joel Kinnaman – The Darkest HourRobocop), to prevent him from following in his old man’s footsteps.

A highly unlikely coincidence abruptly shatters the close bond between Conlon and Maguire when Michael sees Maguire’s wayward son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook – The Reunion, Out of the Furnace), kill an Albanian gangster. Danny goes after Michael, and when Conlon’s intervention results in Danny’s death, Maguire vows to kill both Conlon and his estranged son before the night is over.

Run All Night performed poorly at the US box office, pulling in little more than half of its estimated budget. That’s something of a surprise, given the talent both behind and in front of the camera. Perhaps it was the film’s generic title, or the fact that Neeson has churned out so many movies like this over the past few years that they’ve become interchangeable in the audience’s memory. Whatever the reason, it deserved to be more successful. The first hour or so of Run All Night is everything a good thriller should be; as fast-moving, suspenseful and exciting as you could want, it also manages, in just a few scenes, to create a touching friendship between Conlon and Maguire which adds an emotional resonance that is rarely found in action movies.

At 114 minutes, Run All Night is too long for its own good, and the second half of the movie grows increasingly flabby. It gives you time to speculate about just how a resourceful man like Conlon could have fallen so far – or how he transforms himself with such ease into a fearsome killing machine. It also gives you time to grow a little tired of son Michael’s constant self-pity. And the late addition of a high-tech contract killer (Common – Smokin’ Aces, Now You See Me) is a near fatal misstep – this guy belongs in a second-rate spy movie rather than an urban thriller, which raises the question of whether there was some studio pressure involved to beef up the violence quotient of a movie which really doesn’t require it. Run All Night is definitely worth a watch, though.

(Reviewed 30th September 2015)

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