Run All Night certainly has its similarities to Taken, yet with a strong performance from on screen father and son duo, Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman, Run all Night manages to lift itself from being another Neeson action flick, to a surprisingly dramatic film.
Mike is a straight talking, tough guy, trying to provide for his family. The audience is introduced to Mike as a boxing coach to a young, under privileged kid, which sets him up as a good role model. These nice touches add to the expansion of Mike’s character without beating the audience over the head that he is the ‘good guy’.
Before this introduction, you could be forgiven for thinking that his character would just become a Liam Neeson carbon copy, having the moral standards of a Grand Theft Auto character. He is no push over in a fight, but director Jaume Collet-Serra expertly gives the character opportunities to show restraint. On several occasions, Mike is given the choice to kill, rather than it being the only option. Neeson takes the choice away from him as a father would do; sacrificing more than his life but his own morality to keep his son’s intact. This simple attention to a real person’s ethics elevates what first appeared as a gun hoe story, to a touching story between a father and a son.
Taken spring boarded Liam Neeson into the action hero role and there is no question that there are elements in this movie reminding audiences just how much of a bad-ass Liam Neeson can be. The Grey, Non-Stop and the two Taken sequels all saw Neeson playing similar roles. However, in Run all Night, Neeson plays a character far more vulnerable than any character he has played since his academy nomination for Schindler’s List. He is a complete mess, caused by the guilt of the terrible travesties he has performed in his past.
Despite having only recently broken into mainstream film as the lead in Robocop, Joel Kinnaman has been quite active in the Swedish film industry as the star of action franchise Easy Money (Snabba cash). He has shown no intention of slowing down, with roles in Suicide Squad, The Bends and Child 44 all coming very soon. He is certainly a talent worth paying attention to, and his ability to hold his own against acting film veteran Liam Neeson certainly supports this.
Four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris makes an excellent antagonist as the mob boss, Shawn. Playing the logical business man, Harris excellently portrays a man struggling with the death of his son and the fact that his friend, Neeson, is the one that pulled the trigger. It is great to see this subtle conflict, with nothing ever being said except a few subtle sideways glances at Neeson.
The trailers unfortunately reveal that Danny is killed by Liam Neeson’s character. As a result, the majority of the first act involve waiting for this character to die, and make it seem to drag on too long despite being a good overview to the characters. When the action finally kicks in, the audience is introduced to what only can be described as a human terminator. Rapper turned actor, Common plays Andrew Price, a hired gun commissioned to take down Neeson’s character who relies on technology that just does not feel like it belongs in this film. A night vision eye patch and laser dot sight are just some of the tools at his disposal. Although I can see what the film makers were trying to do by giving Neeson an ‘equal’ to fight against, amidst the multi layering of the other characters surrounding him, the character, Common, feels one dimensional, with unclear motivation that is never expanded.
Having said this, the final conclusion leaves everything on a high note, bringing together all the action and emotion into a highly satisfying climax. Run All Night is not your average action flick. Instead it is a character driven, emotion filled story with a good focus on family and revenge. The action is still plentiful and is well executed, but the depth of characterisation gives the film its weight.