Run All Night certainly lives up to its title. There is a lot of running from antagonists going on in the film, and it takes place during a single night. Director Jaume Collet-Serra and screenwriter Brad Ingelsby make no pretenses about what the movie is. They promise to give the viewer a particular experience, and they deliver exactly that, solidly and efficiently.
The story is straightforward and focuses on keeping the protagonists, Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) and his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), busy trying to stay out of harm’s way. Father and son are being hunted down by both mobsters and cops after Jimmy shot and killed Danny Maguire (Boyd Holbrook), son of mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), in order to save the life of his own son.
Character development isn’t the filmmakers’ first priority, but at least they make an effort to add a little depth to their characters. Alas, the full potential of the central theme of Run All Night, conflicting loyalties, goes unused.
What gives Run All Night an edge over many other movies in the same genre is its atmosphere. More specifically, New York City almost becomes a character in its own right. Establishing aerial shots, buildings, streets, and the subway—these elements are integral to giving the film a real sense of place and a grounded, gritty feel.
How does the movie fare in the action-and-suspense department, then? Quite well, as a matter of fact. The action sequences serve their purpose commendably and are sufficiently intense so as to keep the viewer engaged for the duration of the film’s 114-minute running time. That being said, the scenes in question, well executed though they are, don’t break any new ground. One sequence that stands out features a car chase involving the protagonists and a number of cops, both good and corrupt ones; another is set in an apartment complex.
Liam Neeson is in fine form, giving one of his trademark performances in the role of Jimmy. Joel Kinnaman does a convincing turn as Mike, a family man who finds himself caught up in a very dangerous situation. Characterized by low-key intensity, Ed Harris’s acting renders Shawn an appropriately threatening presence. The most interesting antagonist in the movie, however, gets too little screen time: he is stylish hitman Andrew Price, skillfully played by Common.
Run All Night has enough going for it to merit a watch. While there’s admittedly not much originality to be found here, the film does offer a satisfying amount of entertainment and thrills. Sometimes that’s all one wants from a movie.