In Run All Night Liam Neeson plays a man “with a specific set of skills who is”- no I’m kidding, but only a little. Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is an ageing hit man who has done some of his best work for Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) and as a result has a strained–to the point of irreparably broken–relationship with his son Mike. Mike drives a limousine to earn his keep, he is married to Gabriela (Genesis Rodriguez), and they have two little girls, with a third child on the way.
Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) is trying to become his own man by bringing in new business. However, when Daddy Maguire sits down with the low-lives who want to use his connections to bring narcotics into the city, he says no. And makes Danny lose face. That’s not all Junior Maguire stands to lose if he doesn’t return the money the Albanians paid him to secure Daddy’s support for their nefarious activities.
Remember how I told you that Jimmy’s kid drives a limousine? Well guess whose wheels the Albanians arrive in to Danny’s house. And when they get there that crazy Danny insults them and shoots them dead. Now Mike is a witness to Danny’s crime so his life is in danger. When Shawn calls Jimmy to tell him what his son has become involved in, Jimmy goes over to help out.
Long story short, Jimmy kills Danny. And now, because of the code (of bloody-minded revenge, no doubt) that exists between gangsters, Jimmy tells Shawn what he has done, and Shawn tells him that he is going to come after him, and his boy, to seek retribution. And by ‘come after’ he means sending every tough guy he knows to hunt down Jimmy and Mike.
This movie first became news when screenwriter Brad Ingelsby sold the script. And sites that write about such things had complimentary things to say about it. While the narrative has changed a bit between that draft he sold and the film that was eventually made, it was clear that the reason Mr. Ingelsby’s version of a revenge movie sold while several others probably didn’t is because there are some real ‘hooks’ in the narrative.
- Mike really doesn’t want to have anything to do with his father whom he has never forgiven for abandoning his family. This conflict needs resolving so say hello to dramatic tension.
- The character of Danny, the crazy son who gets killed is really well written as such a colossal jerk that it was only a matter of time before someone put a bullet in him. PLus he killed those Albanian dudes so why are we supposed to weep for him exactly? And if we’re not weeping for him, we have to support Jimmy’s quest to save his kid, right?
- The character of Mr. Price (Common) who is offered a rich bounty to kill the Conlons is a creepy individual who would be totally at home in a Terminator movie, as a terminator. This guy is a Serious Dude, and looks like he could be more than a match for the ageing hit man and his limousine driving son.
Based on what I’ve told you about Run All Night, you should be able to figure out how this movie ends. But that’s not the point here: in a film like this where someone is on the run from someone else, there is a lot of scope for portions of the movie to sag under the weight of having to pass time until the next threat approaches. Director Jaume Collet-Serra (working with Mr. Neeson for the third time after Unknown and Non-Stop) and his editor Dirk Westervelt manage to keep the boring parts down to a minimum, making this an entertaining watch. As long as you are the type of person who finds a grim revenge movie entertaining.