By Ryan Fitzgerald-Nolan
Director Jaume Collet-Serra and Liam Neeson strike it right third time as the Ballymena native plays action man again in the Spanish director’s latest, Run All Night. Collet-Serra had directed Neeson in Unknown and Non-Stop.
In a big improvement from his recent work, Liam Neeson plays a down and out former mobster Jimmy Conlon who must shake off all the cobwebs and empty whiskey bottles to protect his estranged son (Joel Kinnaman) from mob boss and best friend Shawn Maguire who craves revenge for the death of his son. Ed Harris reprises his role as Maguire, playing a mob boss very like he did in films like State of Grace and A History of Violence.
Liam Neeson having to save his offspring again may remind you of his well known franchise, Taken. However, anybody expecting another typical ‘Liam Neeson saves the day’ action movie, which has appeared to have become it’s own genre now, may want to think again. In this twist on the so called ‘Neeson Genre’, for the first time since the original Taken movie, the Irishman has finally delivered, and delivered well, a character with a believable yet gritty background to dismiss any presumptuous critics.
Constantly haunted by the ghosts from his hit list, including his own cousin, a night of peril, car chases, fist fights and fire fights ensue when Conlon shields his son Mike, a binary opposite to him, from a threat closer to him than his own son – the son of his best friend, Shawn Maguire, whom he kills.
Neeson’s fellow veteran co-star Ed Harris, a man who is no stranger to mob boss roles, almost flawlessly plays the ruthless, tightly wound Shawn Maguire, who is hell-bent on vengeance for the death of his son.
A particular stand out scene for both seasoned performers takes place in Maguire’s bar on the edge of Times Square, historically a notorious area for Irish mobsters, teetering on the edge of Hell’s Kitchen. Like gunshots, both exchange quick and humorous snaps at each other while reminiscing about the ‘old neighbourhood’ and real life Westies Mickey Featherstone and Richie Ryan along with Gambino crime family enforcer Roy DeMeo.
Director Collet-Serra and cinematographer Martin Ruhe use interesting camera techniques pulling out of a scene and hovering over New York City to give the audience a real sense of being there while also viewing the iconic Manhattan skyline to fly into the next scene. This technique makes the film more animated and less stale and repetitive.
All Liam Neeson action fans get what they want in a scene comparable to State Of Grace and indeed Taken. In true Neeson style, Conlon takes out the the majority of Maguire’s work force effortlessly while an eerie, echoey Fairytale Of New York ironically rings out.
This pumping Brooklyn Irish mob action thriller is well worth a watch for Mafia and Liam Neeson fans alike. Collet-Serra’s refreshing modern take on an age old genre works well with strong performances from up and coming actors Joel Kinnaman and Boyd Holbrook.
Run All Night can still be found in cinemas .