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Run All Night Not Quite Taken 7, but Close Enough

<i>Run All Night</i> Not Quite <i>Taken 7</i>, but Close Enough

DVD Release Date: June 16, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: March 13, 2015
Rating: R (for strong violence, language including sexual references, and some drug use)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Run Time: 114 minutes
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Common, Boyd Holbrook

Here we go again: while I’d love to say Run All Night is Liam Neeson as you've never seen him before, it's actually Liam Neeson as we've seen him many times before. A co-worker who had seen the preview said, "This is what, Taken 7?" Not quite, but close enough.

From the moment the film opens with an overhead shot of an apparently-dying Jimmy Conlan (Neeson), it’s obvious things are not going to go well. By (approximately) five minutes in we've heard all the most popular profanities at least once. And for the next 100-something minutes we watch people die. It’s not the most uplifting story, but there is at least a reasonable-ish plot.

Jimmy, known to the cops as "Jimmy the Gravedigger" is a former hit man now retired from the mob who is belatedly having trouble dealing with his former career. "I've done things for which I can never be forgiven," he muses. Wracked by guilt, Jimmy can't sleep for seeing the faces of the people he killed, so he drinks to forget.

Shawn (Ed Harris, Phantom), Jimmy’s long-time best friend and former boss, has issues of his own in the form of his son. Shawn's business has gone legit but his son Danny (Boyd Holbrook, The Skeleton Twins), longs for the glory days of the big score. When Shawn refuses to go along with Danny's grand scheme, things turn ugly. It would have all been a simple case of bad guy vs. bad guy if only one set of bad guys had chosen another limo service. As it was, the driver who witnessed Danny's crime was none other than Jimmy's estranged son Michael (Joel Kinnaman, RoboCop).

Naturally, the mob can't let Michael live to tell tales. "I had to kill people I loved because I couldn’t trust them," Shawn says. And naturally Jimmy can't let them kill his son. Shawn and Jimmy draw battle lines and the bloodbath begins. At the center of this conflict, Michael just wants to get away from his dad—he has some unresolved anger issues—and keep his family safe. Michael doesn't want any part of his father's lifestyle, but when his attempts to be a normal law-abiding citizen go horribly wrong, his only hope for survival is to team up with Dad. Fortunately, being on the run together provides an opportunity for a little father-son relationship building. After all, they have to talk about something between being chased, shot at, hunted by corrupt police, etc.

Even hung over and wounded, Jimmy is a force to be reckoned with. He efficiently dispatches an entire pub full of people, a feat all the more impressive because his weapon of choice is a revolver that has to be loaded bullet by bullet instead of the more efficient clip used by younger assassins. A battle of new toys vs. old school skills commences when the deadly Andrew Price (Common) takes on the job of dispatching the Conlan boys. 

A lot of people die in this movie. A lot. Most of them pop off almost instantly after being shot—regardless of the location of their wound—but one death scene was so long and drawn out I expected the victim to break into an Italian aria. Granted, he was a major character but—possibly hardened by all the killing that came earlier in the film—all I could do was sit there thinking "get it over with and die already."

While so many scenes in Run All Night have a "been there, done that" feel to them, the cast and the dark, seedy atmosphere of New York City in the nighttime do help. Neeson, Harris, and their supporting cast turn in some excellent performances. Just think what they could have done with better material.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Drinking, sometimes to the point of passing out; drug use shown more than once; references to dealing; smoking.
  • Language/Profanity: You name it, they probably said it: B-S, F-words, sh**, as* (often combined with “hole”), G-D, racial slurs, mother-f(er), di**head, Jesus Christ, sexual references noted below.
  • Sex/Nudity: No sex shown but frequent references to body parts (t**s, etc.), oral sex, length of male body part (highly exaggerated), freezing one’s “nuts” off; reminiscing about sexual encounters; a man propositions woman in front of her husband and child and later mocks the husband with a description of their fictional encounter; another man places a phone order for prostitutes with explicit anatomical requirements; porn magazines shown briefly; tasteless joke about sex.
  • Violent/Frightening/Intense: This entire movie is basically about people dying, which happens repeatedly via a variety of violent methods, some fairly creative. The main characters are running for their lives most of the time. Towards the end there is a brief moment of slo-mo head splatter, but the victim was roundly hated and cheers broke out at the theater when he finally got what was coming to him.

Publication date: March 12, 2015