Movie review: Liam Neeson's Run All Night is not worth chasing

Pow-wow pairing of Liam Neeson and Ed Harris fizzles out with too much running

Review Action-drama

RUN ALL NIGHT (NC16)

114 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**

The story: Ageing mob hit-man Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) and Brooklyn crime boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) are best friends. All this changes when Conlon's son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), witnesses Maguire's mobster son, Danny, killing rival gangsters. Conlon is forced to shoot Danny when he goes after Mike. Maguire swears vengeance and sends his thugs after Conlon and Mike.

The concerned fatherly stuff that Liam Neeson, cinema's busiest senior-citizen action hero, did to protect his daughter in the Taken movies, he does them again for his son here.

Except that, this time, his "particular set of skills", as they were ominously described in Taken, are shadier, murkier and somewhat more illegal.

In fact, as mob enforcer Jimmy Conlon, he is so perched on the wrong side of the law, he absolutely forbids his estranged, law-abiding son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman from last year's RoboCop), to use a gun in case Mike turns into a chip off the old criminal block.

"You pull that trigger, you're no better than I am," the parent warns.

Man, where is the fun in that for somebody right smack in a Neeson avenging-angel movie not to be able to shoot something?

It is easy to forget while he is killing people just what a good, humanising actor Neeson really is.

No one can essay a tough guy haunted by dark deeds past with a heavy soul, remorseful spirit and wry humour better than this bloke - he can go from empathetic to menacing with just one stare, grunt or stoop of his long frame.

But just when the story gets interesting - I am talking The Godfather-soap opera interesting - it gets blown away.

Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, who previously helmed Neeson in Unknown (2011) and Non-Stop (2014), probably remembered what Neeson is paid to do here and, clearly, it is not to smell the roses.

You know Conlon and Maguire are long-time chums and soulmates from the way they huddle and engage in misty-eyed recollections about the bad old days and talk about crossing the finishing line together.

Then Conlon is forced to shoot Danny to save his own son and Maguire goes insane, warning him: "I'm coming after your boy with everything I've got."

There could have been so much pleasure in seeing these two compelling lions in winter poised for a good pow-wow instead of a loud bang-bang.

There could even have been some really good bonding between dad Neeson and son Kinnaman, especially when both are at the same elevated height without anyone needing to stand on a stool.

Hope springs eternal until a relentless hit-man (rapper Common) pops up as though he is from a Terminator movie and the chasing and fleeing ratchet up to ludicrous levels.

stlife@sph.com.sg