Maybe it’s best that Liam Neeson has declared his impending retirement from action movies. Some of them have been damn fine B-grade cinema — namely the cult classic Taken and oft overlooked The Grey — but the lion’s share are dull, repetitious, and formulaic. Case in point: Run All Night. It has a good gimmick and noir sensibilities, but like so many other one-note action flicks it goes nowhere fast.
Once again, the Neesons is called upon to rescue his estranged child. This time it’s a son, Michael Conlon (Joel Kinneman). Neeson is Jimmy Conlon, a burnt-out, down-on-his-luck triggerman for local mobster Shawn Maguire (a suitably grizzled Ed Harris), who made his fortune in the ’70s and ’80s by running drugs, prostitutes, rackets, and just about everything else. These days he’s set up as a legitimate businessman — at least on the surface — and when his generically degenerate screw-up son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), tries to get a deal going with Albanian heroin dealers, the old man goes ballistic. The fallout results in an overly contrived series of events that finds Michael seeing too much, Danny dead at Jimmy’s hand, and both of them hunted by the police and Maguire’s men.
Much of what happens after that consists of Jimmy trying to make nice with Michael, Michael fretting over his family’s safety, Vincent D’Onofrio trying his best to liven things up as a dogged NYPD detective, Maquire delivering faux-Godfather monologues, and rapper-turned-actor Common as a professional hitman in the ’90s mold who pops up every few minutes to be menacing, with the necessary gunfights, fistfights, and car-chases occurring exactly when you’d expect them to.
In all fairness, the action is well-choreographed and an extended sequence in a tenement highrise that does rise above the norm, but that alone isn’t enough to perk up an otherwise limp thriller/crime drama that is strictly by the numbers. it’s not balls-to-the-wall enough to qualify as pure spectacle, and the hollow “Where did we go wrong?” sorrow and “Those were the good ol’ days” reminiscences don’t really cut it as crime drama. If there’s a crime to found here, it’s strictly an open-and-shut case of a perfectly good cast wasted on a sub-par movie.