Friday 13 March 2015

Review: Run All Night

World of Blackout Film Review

Run All Night Poster

Run All Night
Cert: 15 / 114 mins / Dir. Jaume Collet-Serra / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Y'know, snarky comments about Liam Neeson as an alcoholic estranged father, punching and shooting people in a leather jacket are becoming almost as clichéd as films featuring Liam Neeson as an alcoholic estranged father, punching and shooting people in a leather jacket. Although despite today's neatly-timed announcement*1, Liam shows no sign of stopping just now, so I don't see why I should either.

Mr Neeson's latest (well…) offering bestows upon him the honour of The Opening Line. As he lies bleeding and surrounded by shrubbery, his sonorous transatlantic grumble delivers the absolute gem, "I've done terrible things in my life… things for which I can never be forgiven", with either an over-indulgence of self-awareness, or none whatsoever. I can't be sure which it is. Poor Liam is on autopilot for the entire movie, and Joel (Robocop) Kinnaman can't seem to muster the likeability required to be An Actual Protagonist. The screenplay makes no attempt to offer us anyone else to really root for, so it's just a case of sitting back and watching the claret.

The plot of the film takes place over the course of 16 hours, and the episodic nature of the father/son adventure does make it feel a bit like a mission-arc from Grand Theft Auto (complete with expository cut-scenes, naturally). The script itself seems to have been compiled by a computer working from a database of action-movie catchphrases and platitudes, hoping that the mumbling of the actors will fudge the audience's aural déjà vu. Strangely, one of the best scenes is the downtown New York chase, in which Neeson tries to ram the patrol-car of corrupt police officers off the road. Coincidentally, it's also a scene with almost no dialogue for four minutes.

Despite my moaning, Run All Night isn't 'awful'. As bullet-ridden action-thrillers go, it's actually on the better side of alright until dear old Liam keeps playing His Film Character. He's supported by Ed Harris (who can't seem to believe what he's doing), Joel Kinnaman (see above) and Boyd Holbrook, who puts in a reasonably interesting turn until he's killed in the first act (that's a plot point. It's in the trailer. It's not a spoiler.) The cast are so elderly, listless, or elderly and listless that Common*2 has to be drafted in during the second act to do some of the heavy lifting (and in fairness, Liam and Common duelling with flaming table-legs was rather nice, I thought).

Despite some interesting stylised transitions between scenes, there's really very little here that you haven't seen before. The film doesn't do anything too badly, it just doesn't do anything new. Although it doesn't really promise to, either. And when you're asking people to hand over a tenner to watch it? That's going to be a stumbling block.
With a smarter script and more inspired casting, Run All Night could have been just the thing. As it stands, it's another also-ran in the Liam Neeson box set of mediocrity.

Actual fact: Run All Night's distributor, Warner Bros UK, have thought long and hard, and decided that a 15-rated violent revenge-thriller should be preceded by the trailers for Home, Spongebob and Cinderella. No, seriously. Who the hell do they think is watching this movie? Well, me, evidently since I plan on watching at least two of those three movies. Although I was going to anyway, so…

Oh, and by all means write your screenplay and call your hardened, grizzled mob-boss Shawn Maguire. But whenever he gets mentioned, I'll be thinking of Sean Maguire. Threat-central, yeah.

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
Not really, if I'm being honest.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Unless you star in the film, I can't see that you'll want to watch it more than once. Rental, it is.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Well I doubt it'll be in Ed Harris' obituary-reel, somehow.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It probably does, actually.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not really.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't. For shame.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Run All Night stars Qui-Gon Jinn himself, Liam Neeson, of course.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Seriously though, "two years"? John Candy died and they were releasing 'his last film' for the next five years. Two years of Neeson actioners is like a decade in human-years, or something.
*2 He's one of those rapper-actors, I think. He's generally used as background-scowling in movies, but he's pretty good in this. Certainly better at action-movies than the rest of the cast, anyway.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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