Run All Night is the latest Liam Neeson Taken-esque-action-movie. I'm a big fan of the late 80's and 90's action films, and I've really enjoyed watching Neeson go from drama leading man to realistic (usually...) action star. Or, if not realistic, at least one with some depth. Don't believe me? Check out 2011's The Grey or even last year's Non-Stop. In both of these films Neeson is top-notch, portraying a lonely alcoholic dealing with the situation that's been thrown at him (yes, he plays an alcoholic in both of these films, but for different reason). So, given that these films are very much in the vain of what Schwarzenegger and Stallone did in the 80's and 90's (playing the same type of character in different situations) I was expecting a somewhat meaningful and entertaining action movie, which I mostly got.
In Run All Night Liam Neeson is once again playing an alcoholic dealing with some inner-demons (he's an ex-mafia enforcer who's killed a lot guys, leaving him feeling hollowed out), but this time he has a son who becomes the catalyst of "the thing Liam Neeson has to deal with." That thing in this movie is his life-long best friend (who's a mafia king pin) hunting him and his son through the streets of New York City.
It's a story that's been told before, but there's enough twists at the beginning of the film (assuming you haven't already watched the trailer, that damn thing gives them all away) to keep it interesting and fast paced. The film hits all the right emotional beats that elevate it from being just another mindless action flick, but they almost come too little too late in the film. Neeson's character comes off unlikeable for the first 20-minutes of the film, and a chance encounter with a police officer who hates Neeson's guts, a scene that's supposed to give us insight into Neeson's character, feels forced and lazy. The film doesn't really pick up until about 30-minutes or so into the film when Neeson's son gets caught up into Neeson's old mafia business and is forced to run all night for his life.
Over all though, the film has enough positive qualities to make up for the few stilted scenes and the bad CGI camera pans (this is a weird stylistic choice the director makes at the beginning of the film, as if he's trying to recreate the camera-panning-through-the gun scene of Fight Club, but luckily it stops after the first 20 minutes or so). I give it 3 & 1/2 stars. It's not as good as The Grey or Non-Stop, but it's still worth seeing if you're a Neeson fan.