Did anyone ever tell Beethoven, “Enough with the piano, already?”
Yet a cacophony of those who heralded Liam Neeson’s magnificent Oskar Schindler are wondering aloud if the Irish actor has anything in his quiver besides “Mr. Comeuppance” (see sidebar).
For sure, the gruff semi-shaven Neeson who navigates the marginal seedy alleyways of society majestically waving a semi-automatic like Furtwängler his baton has been a fixture as of late. But of the call to change his ubiquitous character, I invoke the words of Billy Joel: “I love you just the way you are.”
And so do fans of this dark gritty brand of action.
In the new film “Run All Night,” Neeson is Jimmy Conlon, an aging hitman whose past deeds are starting to eat at his conscience and have long estranged his son (“RoboCop’s” Joel Kinnaman), a family man with two young daughters he’s been kept from seeing.
When he’s put in the no-win position of having to kill the son of his longtime boss and friend (Ed Harris), Conlon needs to reconnect with his own child to protect him from his boss’ retaliation.
So the two essentially “run all night” through the streets of New York City to buy themselves time and stay one step ahead of the merciless hitman on their tails (rapper Common) and the lawdog (Vincent D’Onofrio) perpetually in pursuit. Naturally, along the way the Conlons bond.
An Albanian mob connection unnecessarily convolutes what is otherwise a formulaic though solid action pic. Some gratuitous violence (they overdo it with the head-shots) but evenly-distributed action throughout.
I even appreciated the nod (perhaps inadvertent) to Lucas McCain in Neeson’s coup de grâce — swinging his Winchester 180-degrees by its lever to cock it. (A big screen version of “The Rifleman,” yes, I can see it.)
Reliable Liam Neeson fare.
Med City Movie Guy’s rating: 3 Honks
The Man of 1 Face
Lately, anyway. “Run All Night” continues Liam Neeson’s streak of trotting out the same character in the same plot. This week, he strikes down with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to destroy his son. Here are a few other permutations:
Taken (2008) This is where it all started. As ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills, Neeson re-branded himself an action star. This time checking out some of the things the other tour guys won’t tell you about Europe — like, for example, human trafficking — as he sets out to rescue his teenage daughter from kidnappers.
Taken 2 (2012) This is where it all continued. This time he’s rescuing his ex-wife. And the bad guys? Albanian gangsters, of course. Apparently it’s the Albanians’ turn to be the generic bad guys (ref: “Wag the Dog”). I suppose it’s only a matter of time before it’s open season on the Slovaks.
Taken 3 (2015) This is where it all disappointed. Contrary to what a lot of us supposed, there was no long-lost relative from Bayonne abducted. Late-night joke writers lamented, critics were nonplussed. But this trademark Neeson flick still grossed nearly $300 million.
A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) Neeson “does favors for people” one of whom wants him to find the men who kidnapped and killed his wife. Yea, I guess he had that on his resume. Flopped at the B.O.