** out of ****
After a strong 2014 that saw him in The Lego Movie, the preposterous but mostly fun Non-Stop, and the stylish, character-driven A Walk Among the Tombstones, Liam Neeson has stumbled in 2015 with the panned Taken 3 and the new Run All Night.
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop), Run All Night starts promisingly. Neeson is a once feared enforcer for a New York mob boss (Ed Harris). But he’s old, drunk, and haunted by both memories of the people he’s killed and a dogged detective (Vincent D’Onofrio) who still wants him in jail. Harris is doing better than Neeson, but his power is fading and his son (Boyd Holbrook) is engaging in increasingly dangerous behavior.
It’s a decent setup, and one that could have made for a tight little thriller/character study. But the plot gears start grinding. Neeson’s estranged son (Joel Kinnaman) witnesses Holbrook murder a man, and Neeson has to kill his friend’s son to save his own. The rest of the movie is a mostly ho-hum chase picture with a few unnecessary subplots and characters added in. The film reaches an endpoint, then has to run another 10-15 minutes to tie up a loose end involving an extraneous villain.
Collet-Serra isn’t particularly good at staging action scenes, either. Non-Stop survived his limitations because it’s basically an Agatha Christie drawing room mystery with an occasional fight scene. But Run All Night wants to be a Walter Hill film, and Collet-Serra isn’t up to the task.