Run All Night


Viewed – 25 August 2015  Online-rental

When Liam Neeson defied expectations and proved a credible action star in the breakout hit Taken, I couldn’t wait to see what would come next.  However what we did get were a series of thrillers that all seemed to come from the same blueprint, delivering entertainment of rapidly deteriorating quality … Taken’s own sequels a prime example.

run-all-night

However I came to this fairly well reviewed revenge thriller with a degree of optimism because well, Neeson is still a solid screen presence and with the right script can really deliver the goods.  Sadly then this wasn’t the case here.  Neeson plays a down on his luck mobster, estranged from his son and still hanging out with his gangster friend Ed Harris.  Yet one night Ed Harris’ loose-cannon son gets in a sticky situation with some Albanian drug dealers and is soon involved in murder – that get’s witnessed by Neeson’s limousine driver son.  Neeson then has to protect his only son from this unhinged hoodlum that he’s forced to kill, which pisses off old friend Harris – and so sets forth a night of retribution and well, a lot of running.

Slightly convoluted story aside, the concept here is decent, and the performances, especially Harris and Neeson are not bad.  RoboCop remake’s Joel Kinnaman is also passable as Neeson’s clean-cut son … but the big let down here is the direction from usually commendable Jaume Collet-Serra (the underrated ‘Unknown’ and cult classic ‘Orphan’).  He chooses to shoot the whole movie like a rapidly edited pop-video that really didn’t suit the gritty, realistic tone and spoils pretty much every attempt at a good moment.  A car chase is dizzying and just not enjoyable to watch.  Shoot outs get tiresome very quickly, and even quiet character moments are awash with camera angles that don’t stay in one place for more than a second.  The writing is also pretty lazy and get’s rather silly at times just to help the plot along (leave the hit man alive?  Really??).

Some plot elements like how Neeson won’t let his son fire a gun and the father / son bonding or the friendship between Harris and Neeson, helped give the movie some depth – and in better hands, could have made for much more memorable fair (Michael Mann comes to mind, considering we get a steal of Heat’s famous coffee shop scene).  But no, this was just sloppy style for the sake of sloppy style, that took any potential and ruined it.

Verdict:  2 /5

Unknown


Viewed – 21 May 2012  Blu-ray

With Liam Neeson enjoying a sort of resurgence in popularity following a spate of hit thrillers, pretty much anything starring the Irish-born actor is essential viewing of late.  Although at the time this garnered very mixed reviews and seemed to be wrongly marketed as a cheap cash-in to Taken … therefore, I have been quite hesitant to check this one out.

Neeson plays Dr Martin Harris, on route to a summit in Berlin with his beautiful wife Liz (January Jones – Mad Men, X-Men First Class), who is involved in a car accident, and on awakening from a coma four days later, discovers that someone has taken his identity, and not even his wife recognises him.  A great set up, that although causing strong deja-vu with this viewer (Frantic, anyone?), immediately grabbed my attention.  As expected Liam Neeson is very good as the confused Doctor, handling car chases, fist fights and a compelling situation with ease.  Supporting him is a perfectly angelic January Jones and also a street-wise Diane Kruger as the cab driver who comes to Neeson’s aid.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) with similar slick production values and European setting to Taken, this may lack the emotional intensity of that movie and much of the ‘cool’ but still offers a gripping 2 hours of entertainment that’s really hard not to enjoy.  The ending did sort of screw with my perceptions, leaving me a tad conflicted … and the villains are out of the shady government cookie cutter.  Yet if you’re after an above average thriller with intrigue, twists and quality action, if short on surprises … this will do the job nicely.

Verdict:  3.5 /5