When exactly did we decide Liam Neeson is the new paragon of action movies? I’m not even sure I can name the second biggest star in action movies right now in terms of output or cultural cachet. If someone anywhere in the world right now is making a joke about a hypothetical action movie I bet it stars Neeson. Run All Night is Neeson’s second collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra after last year’s Non-Stop, which was widely derided as “Taken on a plane”. They’re back this time hopefully not in an attempt to prove their incredible creative range as Run All Night is essentially Taken but if the child was a boy instead of a girl; it is not a lot of fun.
It has been suggested to me recently that the reason I don’t connect well with the Taken films is because they’re primarily aimed at women. That Bryan Mills is supposed to be a troubled but infallible sexualized fatherly hero saving a woman facing the oversized version of everyday fears. Run All Night is a clear attempt to bring this formula to a male audience. Gone are the imperiled female characters, in fact gone are almost any women with speaking parts, replaced with a son (played by Joel Kinnaman) who is marked for death after a mafia misunderstanding. Where Taken is violent and abrupt it is a PG-13 style of violence where people crumple quickly and the camera never lingers too long, conversely Run All Night is a gleeful R with all of the blood and the long strangling scenes that rating allows for. One strong advantage Run All Night has is a strong antagonist in Ed Harris. His version of the aging gangster kingpin is not the most original but Harris is much too good for this material and consistently knocks it out of the park. His scenes are the best in the movie and it speaks to his ability of an actor that he can be such a compelling character but I never felt drawn to root for him, that can be a fine line.