Shouldn’t it be a given by now that it’s not a good idea to mess with Liam Neeson’s family?
It’s getting to the point where these stories don’t even really need to be told. Viewers can just replicate an entire Liam Neeson movie in their mind based on the most simplistic plots.
Reteaming with the director of such lackluster Neeson action films as “Unknown” and “Nonstop,” “Run All Night” is no exception. Neeson, this time lightly disguised as an aging Irish hit man, has just murdered his boss’s son in order to save his own estranged child. Both Neeson and his son, played by Joel Kinneman in a performance just this side of Jamie Dornan in “Fifty Shades of Grey” awful, have to “run all night” to hide from Ed Harris.
Director Jaume Collet-Serra does the right thing in casting — with a few major exceptions — pairing Neeson on screen with some of Hollywood’s best character actors in Harris, “Full Metal Jacket” star Vincent D’Onofrio and Nick Nolte. Though those four actors never all share screen time together, having all four involved in the project should have resulted in a better movie than “Run All Night” ends up being.
It’s a little out of sorts to see Common — now an Oscar winner after the success of his collaboration with John Legend for the hit song “Glory” in the film “Selma — as a stereotypical and largely silent assassin hunting down Neeson and Kinneman. We’ve seen quality actors take on these small, but important hitman roles to great effect in the past, but Common is no Clive Owen in “The Bourne Identity.”
There’s no subtlety to Common’s performance, but that’s probably blame that needs to be placed on Collet-Serra, who just doesn’t seem to find the right balance between quality acting and quality action. It’s possible to have both in the same film, but there are only flashes of that in “Run All Night.”
This isn’t to say that “Run All Night” isn’t still worth seeing. The film is definitely what viewers probably thought they were going to get with Neeson’s last movie, “A Walk Among The Tombstones,” which played out more crime procedural than dark action-packed thriller.
Led by quality performances from Neeson (who can probably sleepwalk through a couple more action movies without viewers noticing) and the always rock-steady Harris, “Run All Night” is just the kind of B-level action movie that some viewers need this time of year to help prepare them for the onslaught of summer blockbusters to come.