It’s hard to review an action crime thriller starring Liam Neeson these days without comparing it to Taken, which reset the gold standard for them in 2008, writes Matt Adcock.
Taken kick-started Neeson’s career as the ‘go to guy’ for a whole pulpy violent revenge subgenre.
To date we have two tepid Taken sequels and the grim A Walk Among The Tombstones, plus Neeson recycling the grumpy old action hero formula in Unknown and Non-Stop.
Now we have Run All Night, which pits Neeson’s washed- up hitman Jimmy Conlon against his former crime boss employer Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) and all his nefarious minions.
After years of loyally bumping off people, Jimmy becomes the target himself when he kills Maguire’s nasty son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) to defend his own, Mike (Joel Kinnaman).
Cue heavy duty chases, gunfights and macho banter dialogue through the space of one fraught night as the extremely world-weary Jimmy uses his special set of skills to wreak deadly force on all who come after his kin.
You could knock director Jaume Collet-Serra for churning out many similar movies, but he does have a gift for creating slick, watchable fare and Run All Night’s clichéd plotline is elevated by some clever David Fincher-style camera swoop cinematography. The action bounces along with plenty of menacing moments, chief of which come from relentless bounty hunter Price, who simply will not quit until Jimmy and his son are dead.
There is a strong underlying theme of vengeance, justice and redemption embedded in the film which seeks to explore the culpability of the ‘sins-of-the-father’ and some Christian rhetoric about sacrifice.
Here the viewers are party to Jimmy’s inner monologue reflecting on the burden of a lifetime of regrets and guilt about the lives he’s ‘taken’.
Ultimately this is a film that tips the hat to meaty theological subject matter but doesn’t in any way let that get in the way of by-the-book action shoot-’em-up entertainment. Run All Night feels a bit run of the mill but it does deliver a couple of grittily viewer friendly hours.