Run All Night

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“What are you people, on dope?!”

I have to ask that question (thanks Ray Walston), to anybody spending more than 50 cents to see this movie.

I’m going to start by asking why Liam Neeson, who obviously has talent, chooses to do this character over and over again. The aging alcoholic, with a particular set of skills…who has to imploy those skills to kill bad guys before they harm his family.

Sure, he’s got those sorrowful eyes, but are we supposed to be rooting for a guy that starts the movie drunk, sleeping in the booth of a bar? Oh wait, he has regrets about his past, and his son isn’t allowing him to see the grandkids, so…yeah, we do feel bad for him. Come on! This is all predictable and preposterous garbage.

It’s strange how all my musician friends get angry when the singers and guitarists let big companies use their songs in commercials. They shout about them being “sell outs.”

I don’t mind if Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp get paid $10 million to do a commercial in Japan. Yet when actors like Neeson and Ed Harris don’t mind collecting millions to make crap like this, I want to scream.

Oh, and rest assured, nothing in this review will be a spoiler. The commercials for the movie tell you everything, and what they don’t, will be cliché filled predictability.

This was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who was behind the camera for Neeson’s Non-Stop and Unknown. I suppose if the movies make $100 million, they’ll keep churning them out.

The movie starts with the first of many scenes with characters making idiotic choices. Ed Harris is in his basement, talking to a couple of Serbian mobsters. His son has brought them over and they’re willing to pay $2 million upfront to use his dock to bring in heroin. Harris looks at them with those steely eyes, and starts lecturing them about how he used to sell coke, and how he watched it destroy all his friends. He pushes the pack of dope them and yells, “Take this s**t out of my house, and get out of here!”

The son, who we know is going to make the wrong decision, apologizes to the Serbs and assures them he’ll straighten it out.

Now, I don’t know anything about drug dealing and shipments, except what I’ve seen in the Mel Gibson and Liam Neeson flicks. I do understand human nature, though. And if you’re talking to some thugs about the possibility of doing a crime, if I was bowing out, I’d at least be as polite as possible about it. Perhaps I’d give them a good song and dance, too. I’d tell them the cops have been trailing me and it just isn’t safe, and they might want to find another port.

Anyway, the son ends up working with the Serbs…and the hardworking, family man son of Liam Neeson is the limo driver that witnesses a shooting. This leads to Harris’ son (Boyd Holbrook) wanting to kill Neeson’s son…which leads to Neeson killing the son and calling Harris to explain what happened (that’s probably the 10th idiotic decision a character makes, and it’s only 15 minutes into the movie).

From there, father and son are on the run. Yet for the life of me, I don’t know why Harris is so upset. He’s admitted his son is a loser. He likes Neeson and his previous loyalty. Whatever.

When I watch movies this bad, I like to sit there and think of the good movies with similar scenes; the fact that the mob boss in The Godfather didn’t want to get involved in drugs. The scene in the restaurant with them squaring off – reminds us of Pacino and De Niro in Heat.

Another De Niro movie – Midnight Run – has him playing the one good cop that refused to be paid off by the mob. In this film, the talented Vincent D’Onofrio plays that part. He’s investigating the murders Neeson had committed for Harris.

Yet what’s so perplexing is this. They’re trying to illicit sympathy for Neeson. So we’re supposed to excuse the fact that he’s an alcoholic who abandoned his family and killed people. Yet when D’Onofrio questions him in a diner, he sees he has a new partner that’s a younger Latino. Neeson mutters, “Tell your partner they don’t serve chimichangas here.”

What???

The worst part is the audience laughed. Somebody needs to explain two things to me. First, how is that even funny? Two, how can that make us like Neeson’s character, since we now know him to be a racist? This new, young partner had nothing to do with any previous beef these two might have with each other, so to insult his heritage makes no sense. Screenwriters have to be conscious of things like that. For example, we might not like D’Onofrio if he said, “I heard you’re a big alcoholic now. Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday – an Irishmen that drinks.”

Instead, they did it right with D’Onofrio. We never dislike him, because we know he’s a good cop just doing his job and trying to bring closure for families that lost loved ones.

I’m also so burned out on the character Common plays. He’s the hitman that can take down anybody. When Harris offers him the chance to kill Neeson (since he’s killed all the other thugs Harris sent), he laughs and says, “I’d kill him for free.”

Really? So when a mob boss offers you double your salary, you say you’ll do it for free? Not a great business practice (and very cliché).

It’s very rare that these assassins are ever interesting and scary. Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men…or the enemy sniper from American Sniper…but I can’t think of any others. And having a well known rapper (one that just won an Oscar for his son in Selma), actually makes it more distracting to the character and us fearing him.

Nick Nolte shows up as the same character he played in The Warrior, with perhaps a little less coherent dialogue. I swear, he and Gary Busy should do a PSA on why it’s best when you go to Hollywood to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

I can understand some people having a guilty pleasure film that involves lots of shooting and killing. Even though John Wick didn’t do for me what it did for everyone else that loved it…I get that. I recently enjoyed that experience watching Sean Penn in The Gunman.

Yet at this point, Liam Neeson should make a statement similar to Will Farrell’s. He claimed he’d never do another movie where he played an athlete. Neeson should come out and say he’s retiring this character that has those specific set of skills. Seriously, the critics are using him for a punchline the way we do Nicolas Cage.

This movie insults our intelligence at every turn.

It gets 1 star out of 5.

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