Saturday, August 8, 2015

I rent, I watch, I review: RUN ALL NIGHT

I was a bit surprised when I caught "Non-Stop" a year and a half ago. I didn't think it was a great movie, but I find myself enjoying it more than I expected. Liam Neeson is one of those actors who's just always fun to watch even when he's in lesser material. There's a gravitas about him. His voice just has that perfectly dramatic cadence. You can see why he's become such a bankable action star the past few years, but you kinda wish the movies he stars in could at least try to live up to his talents.

"Non-Stop," though, kinda did in a way. It had a great hook for a premise: a man threatening Liam Neeson in a plane, plans to kill all the passengers if he doesn't get a specified amount of money. "Run All Night," which is another collaboration between Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra (who also directed Neeson in "Unknown"), just doesn't have the same immediacy and clarity of plot attached to it. While nothing in "Non-Stop" was particularly original or mind-blowing, it still managed to have fun with its premise. It delivered the goods, basically. Collet-Serra found a lot of interesting ways to make use of such limited space in that airplane. "Run All Night" is just way too standard of an action/drama by comparison. While the performances by Neeson, Ed Harris, and Joel Kinnanman are actually pretty solid, the plot here has just been played way too much and is so blandly executed. Collet-Serra doesn't really do anything unique with this material.

Still, I did like Neeson's approach to his character. Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a former stone cold killer and right-hand man for gang boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Now that he's approaching his 60s, Conlon is filled with a lot of regret thanks to his violent past. He turns to alcohol to cope with his pain and is generally a bit of a nuisance for his boss and the overly boss's son who's an overly entitled, spoiled, little piece of shit to be quite frank.

A series of events go down. Suddenly, the boss's son has a gun pointed at Jimmy Conlon's son Michael (Joel Kinnaman) and Jimmy has to make a choice that could turn everything upside down. He either protects his son by killing the guy, which will undoubtedly get his own boss to turn against him. Or, let his son die, which would simply be too much to have on his conscience, especially since he and his son haven't talked in five years up to this point.

Again, this is all pretty basic stuff. You probably even know how the rest plays out just by me describing the plot to you. There is a car chase, a set piece that takes place inside a Marcy Projects building that was actually pretty well done, and a final showdown in the woods that pits Neeson against a character you thought was dead.

It was generally enjoyable, but in the end, pretty bland and forgettable. Neeson is solid as the remorseful, violent drunk. And how could I ever say anything negative about Ed Harris? It's just a shame he doesn't get very many good roles his way. Vincent D'onofrio and Nick Nolte also have small roles, but they don't really get to do much with them.

If you're a fan of action, specifically Liam Neeson's brand of action, then this is definitely worth the rental. Just don't expect much of it to stick with you when it's over.

Grade: C+

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