Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Common, Boyd Holbrook, Bruce McGill, Genesis Rodriguez
Written by: Brad Ingelsby
Running Time: 114 mins
Release date: 13th March 2015
At last! Liam Neeson stars in a film in which he plays a sensitive soul battling with the demons of his past while building bridges with his estranged son. Yeah, you wish! Instead we are back to Neeson territory where he punches people in the face, only this time it’s more gritty and brooding but has a very nasty streak running through it and proving once and for all, that Neeson seems to have definitely run his course.
Jimmy Conlon is a former hit man for mob boss and lifelong friend, Sean Maguire. When Sean’s son, Danny becomes involved in a dodgy drugs deal, Danny kills the dealers and the only witness just happens to be Jimmy’s estranged son, Michael. Just as Danny is about to shoot Michael, Jimmy kills Danny. Wanting revenge, Sean orders Michael be set up for the murders but Jimmy has other plans.
Written by Out Of The Furnace screenwriter Brad Ingelsby, this is a much darker crime thriller than usually associated with Neeson and director Jaume Collet-Serra, who has worked with the Irish actor on Non-Stop and Unknown, tries to bring to the project an air of tension and gritty realism, as he and his son run around New York, escaping from Sean’s heavies as well as the police, who may or may not be corrupt, and a fellow hit man.
While moving away from the nonsensical garbage of the Taken sequels, it still is a film full of contrivances and a plot that takes itself far too seriously, it soon becomes increasingly repetitive. we watch as the two men run from one baddies, run from a dodgy cop, run from the unstoppable hit man, all in grim darkness and badly lit streets.
What the film does do is remind us that take away the fighting and shooting and graphic violence, Neeson use to be a decent actor. Every so often we see flashes of this, mainly in the scenes he shares with Ed Harris as Sean. These scenes, which sadly are to few and far between, give the film some moments of gravitas before the brutality returns and Neeson runs away again.
While it does try desperately to give more than the usual Neeson thriller, it’s far too formulaic and workmanlike to really appeal and excite, leading to an ending that while wanting to tug at the heart-strings, just leaves you feeling cold, mainly because the running time of nearly two hours, offers nothing we haven’t seen before, played out much better. Think The Warriors and you’ve got a rough idea of what to expect.
I so want Neeson to return to his former glory, making films like Michael Collins or Schindler’s List because I know, given the right material, he is a terrific actor and while it’s great that he has managed to reinvent himself, it’s time to hang up the guns and stop punching people. It doesn’t impress anymore. Yet as long as the pay cheques can dropping into Neeson’s lap, he will continue to make more films like this.
A massive improvement on Taken 2 and 3, it still isn’t enough and with such brutal acts of violence, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We expect more but, let’s face it, we were never going to get it.