Saturday, June 27, 2015

Movie Reviews: Run All Night

Run All Night
directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
The director who helmed this film also directed Orphan and Non-Stop as well as the film Unknown. The latter two films also featured Liam Neeson, as does Run All Night. So I was interested in seeing this film not just because of Neeson but also because of the director. I wasn't too disappointed. Neeson brings his usual gravelly authority to his role as a wastrel. Collet-Serra uses a tremendous number of closeups and other intimate filmic and camera techniques to make you emotionally bond with and believe in this story even though it is a tale which you have seen and read a million times before. In some many most respects this is just a remake or update of Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition. So though it's a cliche to say so, if you liked that movie you may well like this one. The only real difference is that in this film the protective father is not seen through the guileless and loving eyes of his underage son but rather is viewed through the judgmental and even hateful eyes of an adult son who does not consider his father to be part of his family. And the son has very good reasons for feeling that way. I know some people who have or too often had (time moves on) great relations with their father. I know others who have or had somewhat conflicted relations with their father. And I know a small handful of people who hate or hated their father with the white hot burning intensity of a thousand supernova. I can't really understand the last group of people but then again my experiences were very different. Run All Night, to its credit, doesn't immediately try to force you into wanting a reconciliation between father and son, even though it's something which the father needs very much. There are only a few initial sentimental tugs at the heartstrings. I suppose they are very well done if you are partial to that sort of thing. I thought some of this was a little bit unrealistic but that's just me.

Jimmy Conlan (Neeson) is an aging and nearly broken down executioner for the Irish mob in New York. If it is a sign of our humanity that most of us are bothered by killing, then Jimmy is all too human. He's killed more people than cancer. He's tortured by his past actions. He suffers nightmares. Jimmy drinks to dull the pain. And then he drinks just to drink. For whatever reason Jimmy doesn't have very much wealth to show for his long life of criminality and murder. He barely has two dimes to rub together. The same can't be said of Jimmy's best and oldest friend, Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris in a typically intense performance), the organization's boss and a very wealthy man. Although Shawn's the boss and also a murderer, it was Jimmy's moves that put him in the big seat and kept him there. Shawn remembers this, which is why he's always looking out for Jimmy and forgiving him trespasses which would have seen other people left floating in the river. Shawn is a loyal man who believes in doing things by the code. Each man has a son who vexes him. For Jimmy, it's Mike (Joel Kinnaman), a boxing trainer and limo driver who likes to pretend that his father doesn't exist. For Shawn it's Danny (Boyd Holbrook), a member of his father's organization who is obviously not there on merit. Danny is too ambitious to realize when he makes bad decisions. When he does something stupid and disobeys his father's orders he crosses one of Jimmy's redlines. Well. Blood is thicker than water for most people. Usually anyway. If someone I'm related to gets into it with someone else I'm going to take my relative's side even if he's wrong. We can work out those details later. I'm not going to be neutral about someone laying hands on my kin, even if it's deserved. And wouldn't you know it, Shawn feels the same way. A lifetime of friendship is destroyed in one night. And in one night a father and son must find a way to trust each other if they want to see morning. Common and Vincent D'Onofrio give yeoman work as a freelance hitman and a cynical but uncorrupted detective, respectively.

This was not a great movie but I enjoyed it. Both Neeson and Harris are getting a little long in the tooth for these roles. But each actor exudes authority when they walk into the room. The film is much the better for their presence. Nick Nolte has a blink and you'll miss it cameo. There is the normal amount of mayhem, rough language and mano-a-mano showdowns.
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