Combustible Celluloid
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With: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill,Genesis Rodriguez,Vincent D'Onofrio, Common, Beau Knapp, Patricia Kalember
Written by: Brad Ingelsby
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use
Running Time: 114
Date: 03/13/2015

Run All Night (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Point and Shoot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Stories that take place over a short period of time, like Liam Neeson's new action-thriller, Run All Night, are well-suited to the movies.

Unlike epic stories that leap over months and years to get to the next plot point, these intimate stories have more opportunity to focus on details or small events.

In the case of Run All Night, the story takes place over the course of, yes, one night. And while the movie includes the obligatory fights, shootouts, and chases, it's the character interactions that make it worth seeing.

Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, an aging hitman who has stayed out of jail, but who is haunted by his past crimes. "Just because I'm not behind bars doesn't mean I'm not paying for what I did," he says.

Jimmy's own son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), has a wife (Genesis Rodriguez) and two daughters, another child on the way. He's trying to get out from under his father's rotten influence and be a good person, working as a limo driver, and mentoring a kid at the local boxing gym.

But, Jimmy's lifelong pal, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) is a successful gangster, who has his own son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), a live-wire who snorts cocaine and wants to start dealing heroin.

When a deal with heroin traffickers goes bad, Mike ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and Danny points a gun at him. Jimmy intercedes and kills Danny, but the evidence points to Mike.

So, estranged as they are, Jimmy and Mike go on the run from both the cops and Shawn's gang.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra, who made two other Liam Neeson movies, Unknown (2011) and Non-Stop (2014), isn't the subtlest of filmmakers. His action scenes seem obligatory and rather thrown-together, with clunky editing and lacking a sense of space.

However, he does seem to adore actors and creates a world in which they interact in fascinating ways. These wiseguy characters have all grown up in the same New York neighborhood, and they all know each other -- even the cops -- and they often pause for a conversation or a couple of jokes before trying to kill one another.

Neeson and Harris, especially, have a touching shorthand, and an unspoken bond, in their scenes together.

We are lucky that Neeson, now in his 60s, is the most successful and interesting of action stars in America right now; his humanity brings a much-needed depth to this genre and is far more effective than a dozen fights, shootouts or car chases.

Warner Home Video has released a fine-looking Blu-ray with excellent action-movie audio. Extras are rather skimpy, but they do include a short making-of featurette, a six-minute interview with Neeson, and six deleted scenes. The package includes a DVD and a code for an Ultraviolet digital copy.

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