We expect Liam Neeson to be the star in an action movie, and also to somehow be invincible amidst the hail of bullet fire, and, despite his AARP-status age, still prevail in hand-to-hand fighting against much younger opponents. Somehow, when he means business, we believe in him, and we root for him.
That’s why it’s kind of a shock to see him take a part that is not
entirely sympathetic, or especially invincible, either.
In “Run All Night,” the veteran actor Neeson plays Jimmy Conlon, a
man who’s obviously battling with his demons, and losing.
It seems he’s spent much of his younger years being the trigger man for
an Irish mafia family in
It all changes one night when Michael, in his capacity as a professional limousine drive, winds up being a witness to a Mob Hit----orchestrated by Shawn Maguire’s son, Danny (Boyd Holbrook), a wannabe thug who is disappointed that his father seems to want to leave that life behind while he still can. Danny realizes that he’s endangered himself by leaving Michael alive as the only witness to his crime, so he goes after Michael, and the only one to protect him is…you guessed it, his Dad, Jimmy, who suddenly sobers up quickly when the bullets start flying.
The problem is that Jimmy successfully defends Michael, but now Shawn has vowed revenge on them both. The rest of the movie is essentially a series of chase scenes, where it seems the whole city is after them: yes, crooked cops are in on this, too, so the corruption is disturbingly pervasive. Some of the personal violence scenes are fairly disturbing, also, especially Shawn hugging his son’s best friend, then literally stabbing him in the back for not providing better protection.
In the end, of course, no one is left unscathed by the bitter blood feud. Neeson, limping and wounded, staggers his way to the ending, and we, too, are spent and exhausted, but at least there’s a laudable goal here: keeping Michael and his family clean and intact, and inexplicably we find ourselves rooting for that, as if their end-time salvation somehow redeems all the utter brutality before it.
Well, we Presbyterians are suckers, anyway, for end-time salvation redeeming all the utter brutality before it, aren’t we?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First