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Liam Neeson Can 'Run All Night' and Still Get Nowhere

As a drunk hit man, a great actor continues to assassinate his craft

Rating: R

Run time: 1 hour 54 minutes

Stars: Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Liam Neeson

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Movie review begins beneath the trailer.

Is it wrong to mourn an actor who's still alive? Because I find myself grieving the loss of Liam Neeson.

I get the need to make a buck. Or a few million bucks: I'm guessing Neeson pocketed more for his latest head-spinning action flick, Run All Night, than he has for his many award-nominated roles combined — among them Schindler's List, Michael Collins and Kinsey. (I'm about to start weeping here.)

Run All Night, Liam Neeson

Myles Aronowitz/Courtesy of Warner Brothers Entertainment

Run all night and you may just escape this awful flick starring Liam Neeson and Ed Harris.

But please, Liam, could you throw us a few crumbs now and then? Since your heartbreaking performance as the world's most famous sex researcher in Kinsey — for which you won our 2004 Movies for Grownups best actor award — your work has consisted almost exclusively of movies that can be described this way: "A man shoots people. Or possibly strangles them. Or stabs them with something pointy."

The body count rises alarmingly in Run All Night, the story of Jimmy, a booze-soaked retired hit man (Neeson, natch) who must protect his virtuous son, Mike (RoboCop star Joel Kinnaman), from an army of thugs hired by a mobbed-up businessman (Ed Harris). Director Jaume Collet-Serra and an army of three screenwriters (never a good sign) tart up the proceedings by arranging for Jimmy to be seized by guilt. (See: just about any hit man movie of the past 10 years.) What's worse, Jimmy's oldest friend just happens to be the very mobster now trying to kill him and Mike. (See also: every mob movie ever made.)

It's all just an occasion to string together two hours of door-crunching car chases, bloody mano-a-mano fisticuffs, impossible feats of survival and the occasional interlude during which Jimmy either reflects on his wasted life or tries to connect with his justifiably resentful son. At such moments one can almost sense that Neeson is glancing at the director as if to ask, "Oh, I get to act now?"

Then it's back to the bloody grind, powered by frantic editing and pounding music. Like any subject pumped with too much adrenaline, though, Run All Night dies of heart failure long before dawn.

Bill Newcott is a writer, editor and movie critic for AARP Media.