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Article by Teddy Durgin

Run All Night: New Neeson thriller is not a bad way to spend an evening

"Run All Night" would have been a fabulously tense action-thriller if it didn't have two things working against it. The first is the commercials and trailers for this film. They simply give way, WAY too much of the movie away. And the second? I've written many times about this before, but I'm gonna keep beatin' the drum. The movie begins at the film's end. It shows you the main character in a certain pivotal moment. And then it jumps back in time with a title card that reads "16 Hours Earlier," and the audience spends the whole flick knowing that the story is going to eventually get back to this particular moment. So anything that happens along the way in which that character is put in any jeopardy means absolutely nothing. Because you know that person really isn't at risk or in any real jeopardy because... IT'S NOT 16 HOURS LATER YET! I hate, hate, HATE when Hollywood filmmakers do this! They think they're being clever. But they're not. It almost never works in an action or a horror film especially. It can work in a comedy to set the tone and prep the viewer that they're in for a wacky, outrageous ride a la "The Hangover" and "Alexander and the Very Terrible, Horrible, Sucky Day" or whatever that flick was called. Here, Liam Neeson's Jimmy Conlon is a low-level hitman in seedy New York. His best days are way behind him. He's lost his wife. His grown son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), has no respect for him. He's never met his two granddaugters. And he's a raging alcoholic. The only thing that sustains him is his ongoing friendship with Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), a ruthless mob boss he's known since they were both teenagers. He and Shawn are about all that's left of the "old days," as everybody they ever knew or worked with is either dead or in prison. That all ends one night when Shawn's hot-headed son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), puts a gun on Mike and Jimmy is forced to kill him. Shawn gathers all of his goons and goes after the two Conlons with a vengeance. At the same time, grizzled police Detective Harding (Vincent D'Onofrio, gloriously sweaty) wants to bring them all down. And thus begins a night of car chases, foot chases, shootouts, smoking, drinking and cursing. At Neeson's age, he doesn't exactly run all night. It's more like a hard limp for much of the evening. But there aren't too many movie stars right now who could slip into this storyline and instantly sell it like Neeson does here. Despite my criticisms, "Run All Night" is a solid thriller, folks. It does a good job of blending and balancing old school (Neeson and Harris) with new school (Kinnaman and Holbrook). And there is some well-placed humor throughout so that the storyline never becomes too mired in its own grime and grit. And there are a couple of virtuoso sequences that continue to prove filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra's chops as an action director after helming the Neeson vehicles "Unknown" and "Non-Stop." I especially admired an escape from a burning apartment high-rise in which the Conlons have to not only deal with smoke and flames, but with about 100 cops and a Terminator-like contract assassin played by Common. I do think the film could have played it a bit smarter in its third act. There is very little finesse to "Run All Night." When Jimmy finally feels completely cornered, he doesn't try and use his street-smarts to regain the advantage. He just goes in guns blazing. It's probably best to wait for your local cable provider to provide a pay-per-view all night.

"Run All Night" is rated R for strong violence, language and some drug use.


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