Movies

Peter Suderman Reviews Liam Neeson in Run All Night

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Run All Night / Warner Bros Pictures / Vertigo Entertainment

My review of Run All Night, the new Liam Neeson action movie, is more of a review of Liam Neeson and the ways in which he has influenced the genre. Here's how it starts: 

Over the past seven years, Liam Neeson has helped redefine the action movie. With his boxer's features and his sandpaper voice, Mr. Neeson, now 62, has long been known for his intense performances.

Since the unexpected success of "Taken" in 2008, which featured him as a growling, brutal enforcer out to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Mr. Neeson has earned a place as one of Hollywood's top-flight action stars. In doing so, he has reshaped the action movie around his character, strengths and particular interests.

Thanks in part to his influence, action films — especially those produced on modest budgets and released outside of the summer movie season — have become darker, gruffer, more intense and even, in some ways, more elderly. They are movies about guns and violence, of course, and they tend to feature plenty of action.

But they are also movies suffused with sadness, loss and regret, as well as an acute sense of the passage of time.

"Run All Night" is the latest example. Although it is not the best of Mr. Neeson's recent entries into the action canon, it may be the most representative.

Read the complete review in The Washington Times.

One additional point that didn't make my review: I think this is in some ways just how action movies, especially the ones that aren't special effects driven fantasies, work.

The genre has long been driven by its stars—everyone from Steve McQueen to Clint Eastwood to Arnold Schwarzenegger to Slyvester Stallone and Bruce Willis—and the genre has always reshaped and remade itself, at least to some extent, around the character and personality of those stars. Bill Simmons rehearses some of the relevant genre history here in this great piece ranking the dominant action heroes for each year going back to 1973.

Thing is, there wasn't really an obvious Action Movie Lead for much of the 00s; the Bourne films were maybe the most infuential films during that time, but Matt Damon didn't make that much of an impact. Neeson's recent dominance is in some ways, then, a return to form for the middle-budget action film. 

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  1. Just saw the preview today. Looks pretty good. Ed Harris can bring the intesity himself.

    1. Ed Harris? Really? He is Ed Harris in every movie he does. He shows up and says “I’m a German sniper”, “I’m a NASA control guy”, I’m whatever in the same dead accent and cadence.

      1. I like him most of the time, anyway.

        1. *In typical Ed Harris voice* “Hello, I am a cowboy bounty hunter. My friend carries an 8 gauge shotgun.”

          One of the worst westerns I have ever seen.

          1. I like him better than Liam Nelson actually.

            1. I submit “schindler’s list” and “next of kin” for contrast.

              1. Didn’t see Next of Kin. The content of Schindlers List is what really drove the power of that movie home. I was at the Underground Railroad museum a few weeks ago and they had an Auschwitz exhibit. You can’t spend more than 30 seconds contemplating those horrors without being emotionally moved.

            2. I wouldn’t go there. Liam Neeson is pretty danged good.

              1. I wasn’t saying that he isn’t

                1. Danged good and better than Ed Harris.

      2. You call it what you want. But you walked into the wrong goddam shower room.

      3. Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel is telling you to STAND DOWN, Florida

        1. Let me guess, he is giving me that order in a flat non-regional dialect with no emotional intensity.

          1. I bet you’re a blast to watch movies with:)

            1. I’m terrible. I talk during movies. That why I like watching them at home, so I don’t bother anyone else.

              1. You’re a perfect match for my wife

          2. I guess you never saw, Just Cause where he played a southern serial killer.

            Note that the ‘great actor’ he’s playing against in that scene is not noted for his ‘accent variety’ either. Yet it hasn’t stopped him from owning your mother either.

            1. Nope

              1. I was hoping you’d tell me about his “flat non-regional dialect with no emotional intensity.” in that particular scene

    2. No one does crazy quite like Ed Harris. Must be the steely blue eyes.

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  2. I liked his work in A Walk in the Tombstones, which was a little different. Of course, I’m a fan of Lawrence Block, especially his Matt Scudder novels, so I might be a bit biased.

  3. I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you review this movie without spoilers now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will flame you.

    1. Good luck. LIAM NEESON DIES AT THE END.(guessing)

      1. You’re thinking of Sean Bean. People who come late to the Sharpe series get confused, waiting for him to die.

  4. Although it is not the best of Mr. Neeson’s recent entries into the action canon, it may be the most representative.

    ‘Cause what I look for in a movie is something “representative”. Not quite as good as “quintessential”, but better than “cliched”.

  5. Isn’t Suderman the one who doesn’t even like action films?

  6. “a review of Liam Neeson and the ways in which he has influenced the genre.”

    The “Liam Neeson” genre?

    I think the ‘older guy getting-revenge-flick’ predates the Neeson era somewhat. (cough, 1970s Bronson, Eastwood, Lee Marvin, cough)

    If anything, the “Sweaty Man-Tits” action-film-era of Stallone, Schwartzenegger, et al*, was the outlier…. and the lower-key, gruff, downtempo, “slow burn action-film” has the longer and more-established pedigree, of which Neeson’s stuff is merely the latest incarnation.

    (*I consider the Segal/Chuck Norris work similar, but appealing more to a “Working Class, Middle-Aged Guy Beats Up His Boss, and His Boss’s Wife, and Those Dicks at the Golf-Club” Wish-Fulfillment-Fantasy”, rather than the more overtly homoerotic lure)

    1. I watched tango & cash the other day. Man what a great action movie. They don’t insult you with reason and logic. Shit blows up, people die, and you just enjoy the ride.

      1. Jack Palance really tied that film together.

        1. He was obsessed with those rats. He had a custom made bar to illustrate a simple point with those rats.

      2. +1 Guilty Pleasure

        Although I can’t really reconcile why I enjoy this type of stupid but think Michael Bay is a master turd layer (except I did enjoy Pain & Gain).

    2. Just thought I’d say that I miss your The Independents fashion critiques.

    3. “Sweaty Man-Tits” genre, I’m stealing that

  7. Hey, Suderman, you got a dead cat in there or something?

  8. As much as I hate Damon’s politics, his Bourne character was pretty great. The movies were of course ridiculous and over the top, but that’s par for the course for these types of films and I thought he made a much better “rogue hero” character than anything else Hollywood has released lately.

    1. Same here. I thought Damon managed to bring some humanity along with the kick ass in the Bourne films.

      1. The combination of “amnesia” and “super-spy” makes for a perfect genre-mashing opportunity, such that the character and script writes itself.

        The plot is by default, “one big chase scene”. He doesn’t know who he is…but *someone else does*….. they want to get rid of him, and he wants to ‘find out who he is’.

        Everything that happens along the way is all so much fluff, wandering in-between ‘they’re on to me!”, and “I’m on to them!”. The ‘beleaguered’ action hero is far more interesting than the guy who’s simply an Errand boy for some douchebag behind a desk.

        You’re the *best*, 007/Schwarzenegger/Rambo, and this mission *needs the best*. Some vaguely ethnic people have a weapon of incalculable power, and something something something before its too late

    2. Richard Chamberlain is the real Bourne, and his Bourne would kick the shit out of Damon-Bourne and not even know how or why he did it.

        1. One of my all time favorites

          1. That’s where I started learning Japanese.

            1. From a monk in prison?

  9. This Liam character…seems about as manly as Kevin Spacey.

    Are they lovers?

    Are they married?

  10. He was deadly awesome in Love Actually where he killed all those people. Too bad his son got sucked into that jet engine at the end stalking that girl.

  11. Next week, Sean Penn tries his hand at the action genre to mixed results. Javier Bardem will play his wisecracking sidekick, the absolutely reprehensible Hugo Chavez.

  12. And no mention of the Expendables where every action hero still alive gets to fight side by side. Campy Fun.
    I must add I’m disappointed in Liam’s pro gun control stance. I think anyone who thinks there are to many guns needs to quit making action movies and remove all former action movies they were in from the market place. That is if they want us to take their opinions seriously.

    1. By “campy fun”, I assume you meant “horrid drek”?

      1. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

  13. What, no mention of his gun hypocrisy?

    Makes gun porn movies, but then bitches about people in real life actually own them, to the point where at least one firearms company has refused to provide guns for his movies.

    (Same thing can be said for Sean Penn starring in that Gunman movie. )

    1. Sean Penn is even worse, he owns a bunch of guns and has one of those impossible to get (for the little people) California carry permits.

      Well, until that vapid airhead Theron came along. Jesus, what a mouth-breathing fucktard of a woman, the only reason that silly bitch is alive today is because her mother had a gun.

  14. Also =

    Is it me, or does Liam Neeson have more hair now than he did 10 years ago?

  15. Thing is, there wasn’t really an obvious Action Movie Lead for much of the 00s
    This is a patently stupid thing to say. Jason Statham alone made a dozen movies, including Transporter, The Italian job, and Crank.

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