REVIEW — “Run All Night”
“Run All Night” is the type of film that comes along, teases something great, but then pulls the rug out from under you and disappoints. We are teased with this idea that we might be getting a film about the relationship between two bad guys, playing with shades of grey, and their inevitable heartbreaking face off, but instead we are giving a generic action story about a deadbeat dad’s redemption. Add to this one of the lead actors isn’t very good (in just about anything he ever does), and the main duo have no chemistry, mixed with weak writing and sloppy plot points, and you have a failed attempt in the action genre.
I’ll talk about the story/writing first as it’s my biggest peeve. We are treated to some initial setup to Ed Harris and Liam Neeson’s characters, and they obviously have a long history of shady things with one another. The two are brothers in all ways except blood, but not much is delved into with their history except for just a few minutes of exposition. This isn’t nearly enough to firmly establish their relationship, and the lack of development really detracts from the emotion of their inevitable confrontation, and how that ends. Add to this that Neeson is said to be the only person Harris’ character has cared about for decades, but then Harris just turns on him like the flip of a switch over something that wasn’t really Neeson’s fault, and you have an unbelievable and poorly written plot point meant to turn one of the two bad guys into the actual bad guy. Instead of playing with the shades of grey these two characters offer, since they are both bad guys, they attempted to turn Neeson into a good guy which ruins everything they had been working on. Mix in that they turn the story from what could have been this incredible tale of these two dynamic characters into a generic and boring ‘father protects estranged son’ story, but the father and son have zero chemistry.
The son is played by Joel Kinnamon (“Robocop”), and just like with his last big role he suffers from a lack of talent. Much like Keanu Reeves, there are certain roles that he can do, but more roles that he cant; this is one of them. His inability to portray his character effectively, and the lack of chemistry between and his cinematic father Liam Neeson, completely destroys that entire story arc, and turns you off from caring. Yes, they explain why his character is cold to his father, but the actor is unable to effectively get that across outside of the words that are said. Vincent D’Onofrio somehow got dragged into this to have a useless role of what I call ‘the follower.’ His main purpose is to always be too late to events, but is able to provide exposition as if the audience didn’t just see what happened. I will say, however, that Neeson and Harris were amazing together, and I think had the movie been about them, as advertised, it could have been an incredibly unique experience.
The action scenes are actually pretty slick in this. A couple of cool hand-to-hand combat scenes, some involving flaming table legs, along with some sweet slo-motion money gun shots make for some pretty thrilling and picture-esque show downs. However, these action scenes don’t drive the plot, and very much make it seem like there were two movies written once that were just mashed together. Neeson is still as believable as ever as the gruff ex-bad guy… even though he’s still a bad guy…but lets not talk about that? I guess? I mean…he straight up murders someone when he could have easily shot them in the leg, and avoided the entire conflict.
As a whole “Run All Night” has some pretty sweet action pieces, but the rest of it is weak. The writing is sloppy, some of the characters are awful, and one of our lead actors is just plain dull. There’s a part in this where Ed Harris talks about how his business is completely legitimate, and he turns down selling drugs, but in the next seen he has corrupt cops on his payroll? What does he even do for money? If his business is legitimate now why does he have so many corrupt and bad people on his payroll? This weak writing can really drive you nuts, but nothing more so than the missed opportunity of making this a story about two brothers forced into an inevitable confrontation, where they are both bad guys, but they love one another. That would have made for an exciting and emotional finale, but instead we were left with this. 2/5