Run all Night is another Liam Neeson picture in which he might be half dead, but can still manage to be a hero in a gun fight or even pass a physical test of brawn. Here, he is Jimmy Conlon, a gangster with rivers of blood on his hands, and going into old age with a guilty conscience. One detective in particular trails him, trying to get a list of his victims. I understand that policemen often have a case or a few cases that haunt them, ones that remain unpunished and seem to have particular resonance for the detective (observed by Richard Price, the novelist who accompanied crime scene units in New York for years, gathering information for his books and screenplays, in an interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air). Detective Harding cannot even be civil to Conlon in a casual conversation in a café because he’s so bugged that Conlon has been left free. Of course, Neeson’s character remains his characteristic droll, slight-taunting self.
Conlon and Maquire (Harris) have been lifelong partners in crime, and Maquire has always said that “Wherever we’re going when we cross that line, we’re going together.” That cannot possibly hold, however, when sons are involved. Maquire’s son has taken after his father—although without nearly the smarts and caginess of the old man. He has made promises to some gangsters that he cannot keep, and they come after him. He continues to handle the situation poorly, and it results in a bloody mess. By coincidence, Conlon’s son Mike (Kinnaman) is the driver of a limo outside Danny’s (Boyd Holbrook) apartment, waiting for his fare to return, and has witnessed enough of the melee that he is a threat to Danny. Mike gets away, and runs to his apartment, knowing that Danny will be after him, so he needs to protect his family.
Jimmy has gotten wind of everything, and although they have been estranged for years, he begs his son to protect himself and his family, because he knows how criminals work, and that Danny will be coming after Mike. But Mike has suffered because of his father’s occupation, resents him deeply, and thinks it best simply to call the police, which is against his father’s advice. Conlon is keenly aware that his son won’t have a chance of fairness because of his father’s reputation.
Indeed, the father is right, and then follows a series of encounters in which father has to save son just in the nick of time. Not only is law enforcement after both of them (the police have been purposefully misinformed), but Maquire has also sent out his own minions to get them, the most fearsome of all being a thug (Common) with a laser night vision eyepiece.
In watching films like this, my practical mind always asks questions such as, “in a car chase where the occupants of the cars have guns, why don’t they simply shoot at the tires, rather than trying to play bumper cars?” Why does Conlon stay silent, rather than explain situations? Numerous times, he could have explained in more detail to Maquire why Danny got killed, or could have told his son that he left him and his mother in order for them to have a better life. And finally, Jimmy looks so out of shape, alcoholic, and half dead at times—particularly in the beginning of the film—it’s really a stretch to think that he could even participate in a physical fight, let alone come out the victor time and time again.
If these and other implausibilities can be ignored and you don’t mind seeing replays of other movies (like the Taken ones), you may find Run all Night to be an exciting film with one catastrophe after another, close calls, and heroics. And it has the gifted actors Neeson and Harris doing their thing.
For those who like the Liam Neeson genre, you will find this film to be a fine run—all night.
Grade: C- By Donna R. Copeland