Saturday, 14 March 2015


One oft-discussed feature of American action thrillers is their unawareness of thematic content. Filmmakers are generally so preoccupied with how they present material that they overlook what that material actually is, and what it may mean. Not so with Run All Night, an effective piece of work as an action thriller and an impressive one given its self-awareness. If only it weren't so formulaic, and thereby so inherently deficient as a film outright. Brad Ingelsby's screenplay colours all its characters as self-consciously 'complex' persons, but uses this screenwriting platitude for more profound means than a simplistic statement on the ugliness of humanity. He's challenging us to shift our sympathies in accordance with the action, not the characters involved, and also challenging us to assess what is signified by such shifts. Everyone in Run All Night has purpose to do what they do, so why is it that we align our support, even our compassion, with only a certain few? Is it because we see Liam Neeson in the leading role? We're beyond accustomed to seeing Neeson in parts like these, this moderate variation on a tired theme doesn't quite distinguish it from his other recent roles. Nor does the New York mob setting distinguish the film from its peers. Nor the perfunctory styling. Nor the film's antiquated perception of women and their place in society, though it does at least neatly reflect the perception that the men in Run All Night must have of them. With thrilling action and a welcome interest in the construction of at least some of its characters, Run All Night couldn't be classed as a bad film overall. It's just not quite a good one either.