Friday, March 27, 2015

Run All Night

Liam Neeson is getting tired. No, I'm not referring to his recent announcement that he's going to give up action films in a couple of years. I'm referring to the fact that in his latest action film—at least the latest one this month—he looks a lot more convincing when he's hobbling around injured or drunk than when he's springing into deadly action.

In fact, part of the problem with Run All Night is that Neeson seems positively crippled by his past as a hitman for some sort of New York-based Irish mob, but not so crippled that he can't instantly shake off the alcohol and stiffness when he needs to. Which, of course, he needs to pretty suddenly here.

Point being, I guess, that he's no John Wick, and the believability of Reeves' transition from retired hitman to no-longer-retired hitman benefits from 10+ years of age difference and character not supposedly having hit the skids years earlier.

Director Jaume Collet-Serra did such a fine job with Orphan, but since then he turned out (for Neeson) the weak-ish Unknown and the stronger (but still flawed) Non-Stop, and this is, well, more of the same.

It's got some strong points. Besides Neeson, we have Ed Harris, Bruce McGill, Vincent D'Onofrio and a surprise appearance from Nick Nolte. So, there's some acting there, even if the plot hasn't really changed since Bogart and McCrea did it in Dead End.

Joel Kinnamon (who was in both the Robocop and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo remakes) is appealing as Neeson's good-guy son who wants nothing to do with him, as is Genesis Rodriguez (Big Hero 6, Tusk) as his wife.

I couldn't quite figure out what Common (SelmaNow You See Me) was doing here. I mean, he's good as the hitman who so despises Neeson that he jumps on the chance to kill him for free. But he was really just a rather transparent plot device.

Serra directs with buckets of style. At times, I thought, too much. I still don't know if I liked the scene transitions, which we basically the camera moving from one place in the city to another (by passing through or over all the streets it would take to get there). The lighting during some of the action scenes was too dark, so it could be hard to tell what was going on.

Action films have many of the same weaknesses as superhero films, in that the action scenes are simply set pieces that end because, well, it's time. There were two or three action scenes that bugged me on that level. At one point, Neeson is cornered by McGill. He's sitting in a corner of a bathroom, back against the wall, and McGill draws his gun. Before he can draw it, Neeson jumps from his sitting (and even leaning back) position to tackle him.

Try that some time. You don't even have to be a 62-year-old long-time alcoholic. You can be a teen gymnast, and you won't be able to shift your weight that fast from that position.

I was expecting, at least, a courtesy distraction. Somebody bumping into McGill from behind. But no, it's just a straight on attack when McGill is supposedly pumped on adrenaline (they've been fighting for a while).

Another one is when Neeson and Kinnamon are trapped in the projects by a fleet of police, including a helicopter. They just sorta...get away. They go into what looks like a small, closed-off building, but somehow emerge 500 feet away, presumably because they know the projects better than the cops do.

Stuff like this destroys suspension of disbelief, at least for me. The Boy wasn't too impressed either.

We didn't hate it, or anything. As he said, it was fine: But like Taken 2 or Non-Stop (or Unknown, when I reminded him of that one). There are even quite a few good parts. We just don't think we'll be remembering it.

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