Run All Night ★★★

Not a bad film, though the relativism that goes on with these Neeson projects makes it rather impossible for these to be wholly bad projects. Here's a somewhat muted cat and mouse chase, with an expressive color palette thanks to DP Martin Ruhe (he did The American and Control for Anton Corbijn). He has a keen eye for 35mm contrasts—the brights are notably overexposed (without a digital sheen) and the darks are truly shadows. But the whole thing feels unpolished in a way the last two Collet-Serra films have felt confident.

Don't want to pin this down unfairly, but I can't help but look at editor Dirk Westervelt, who rushes through every shot in an attempt to make static scenes somehow feel kinetic. All the exposition sequences early on keep cutting back and forth, so individual shots don't register. But Collet-Serra has a keen sense of how to let actors move through a space, and Neeson and Harris especially know the gravitas of their energy—when Collet-Serra stages their Time Square meeting with a long tracking shot circling them, suddenly everything feels weighted instead of rushed. Whenever expositional scenes cut outward from the close-up shot/reverse shot to a small camera move or some sort of multi-character space, they suddenly register with a forceful eye for power imbalances or psychological awareness. Was there a studio note to speed things up?

Perhaps, but I did feel this issue petered out as it went on—the car chase is a total dud, but the action sequences in the apartment complex, the railway (that long take on Neeson's face demonstrates that Collet-Serra truly believes in the redemptive aspects of these narratives), and the final fog lit chase feel more rigorously crafted. This might be because the editing is allowed to be more tricky here; when you're dealing with a cat and mouse chase, making us somewhat unsure of the relations is part of the fun.

In the end though, I couldn't help but think of Scott Frank's A Walk Among To Tombstones which kind of mined the noirish NYC specific Neeson thriller with superb editing last year. And while I appreciate the Google Map-esque/Panic Room-influenced (h/t Ignatiy) jumps in space, it still mostly comes across as "New York" (Tombstones had a keen sense for its South Brooklyn milieu). This can't help but feel a bit crasser in comparison.

Peter liked this review