Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars
Bottom Line: An excellent first hour setup followed by a sub-par, formulaic run-fight-escape chase movie.
I really need to stop being a sucker for Liam Neeson beat-em-up films. He’s running under 50% success rating with these vehicles. That said, the beginning of “Run All Night” was a pretty good movie and almost makes it worth the time investment to watch it. Yeah, we’ve seen many gangster underworld movies where the hot-headed son of a powerful mob boss screws things up and his attempts to fix his screw up only makes things worse. This one starts in that vein, but it does a really good job of fleshing out all of the main characters so you have some level of sympathy for them even though there’s really only one main good guy. There is a realness to all the characters that is often difficult to capture. It’s about as engrossing as is possible for the type of movie that this is.
The movie moves along really nicely until Common enters the picture. Common plays Andrew Price, another hit man who is hired to take out Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) and his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman). Before this point, we had a gripping, somewhat reality based chase/revenge movie going, but Common’s introduction throws the movie off the rails. It isn’t that Common does a bad job because he’s suitably bad-ass. It’s just that his character is completely outside the realm that all of the other characters inhabit. While all the characters are somewhat grounded in reality, his is super-human. He goes on this insane killing spree just trying to get to the Conlons. It doesn’t fit the pattern of the movie at all. It might have been made acceptable if they at least gave Common’s character some background, but he’s just suddenly there with a “Oh, I’ll kill him for free” attitude. There’s a story there, tell it instead of showing the rampage.
What we have here are two movies that don’t belong together. On balance, I think it’s worth the time because the first half is pretty engrossing. Really, if you watch it from the comfort of your own home, just fast-forward through the Common portions and it’d be quite enjoyable. Or maybe just suspend reality for the Common portions of the film.