‘Run All Night’ has surprising depth

Liam Neeson is back in the action game with his most recent installment, “Run All Night.” Despite the film’s action advertisements, “Run All Night” takes a surprising turn at the very beginning, turning into a touching family drama with a little action flavor.

Starring Liam Neeson and Ed Harris, the movie follows a retired hit man named Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) and his best friend/former boss Shawn Maguire (Harris). After a drug deal gone wrong, Conlon is forced to kill Maguire’s son (played by Boyd Holbrook) to save his own (Joel Kinnaman). What follows is a clichéd, night-long run from Maguire’s goons and corrupt police that ultimately culminates in a touching father-son bonding experience.

The plot of the movie is nothing if not predictable, following the standard “you killed one of mine, I have to kill one of yours” mobster stories. Having said that, the familiar plot allows for the deeper and more interesting character development to take center stage. While far from perfect, the chemistry between Neeson and Kinnaman certainly makes their relationship between deadbeat dad and estranged son believable, and although Neeson plays the same gruff assassin that he’s played in every movie he’s been in for the last five years, it still works.

Surprisingly enough, this average action movie also does a wonderful job of juxtaposing characters. Showcasing the lives and feelings of the doting mob-boss father with the junkie son as compared to the alcoholic deadbeat with the golden child is an interesting sight. Unfortunately, the addition of another master assassin (played by Common) contributes nothing to the film except conflict. It’s as if the character was shoehorned in to push the plot forward and nothing more, which is a shame. Luckily, this seemed to be the film’s only true fault, aside from overused zooming shots that serve to disorient the viewer and add nothing to the film’s overall aesthetic.

All in all, “Run All Night” could be considered a baseline for the average action movie, but what the film lacks in originality it makes up for with depth of character.