Skip to main content

I don't understand the gang in "Run All Night."

Run All Night is a fine guy movie about guilt, punishment, and revenge.  It's another in the line of increasingly improbable Liam Neeson action vehicles where he's somehow the hardiest and most effective killer in the cast despite being twice the age of all the men who are chasing him.  Not that I can throw stones - I'm pretty sure I'm the target audience.

It's too dour and self-serious considering that it also wants to be an action movie with "Oh, my God, did you see that?!" moments.  A lot like the Taken sequels, actually.  On the other hand, it's waaaaay more plausible than the Taken movies and it's at least got the decency to show some semblance of consequence for all of its players.  In short, I liked it despite its flaws.  This is 3.5 / 5 territory, or maybe 4 / 5 if I'm in a good mood.

Here's the thing, though.  The catalyzing character makes no sense to me.

The setup makes sense.  Ed Harris is the head of an enterprise founded on crime, and Liam Neeson is one of his most loyal and trusted hitmen.  The organization went straight a few years back.  His services no longer needed, Neeson retired.  Now he's slowly fading away into alcohol and regret.

And the actual plot makes sense, too.  After Neeson is forced to kill Harris's son in order to save his own son's life, Harris sends all his guys out on a mission of revenge.  With both Harris's goons and the police chasing them, Neeson and son will have to ~~run all night~~ to stay alive.

Where I get confused is why Harris's son instigates all the crap, anyway.  It's supposed to be a series of misunderstandings and accidents: Harris's kid tells some Albanian gangsters that Harris will help them push heroin in the city, but Harris rebuffs them because his organization has legitimized itself. The Albanians react poorly and menace Harris's kid, so he kills the Albanians.  Neeson's kid witnesses the murders, so Harris's kid tries to kill him, and that's when Neeson intervenes.

But why the hell would Harris's kid think it was okay to broker a deal with the Albanians in the first place?  Didn't he get the memo when they went straight?

Am I just misunderstanding Harris's speech?  When he says they're a "legitimate" business, is that just mob speak for "no drugs, but we're still into human trafficking and loan sharking?"  And if that's the case, is everyone on the payroll aware?

Do mobs ever have staff meetings where they have to explain things when people screw up?  "Okay guys, the next item on my list... ah, here we go.  So, seems like some of us didn't quite understand what we meant by the new 'no drugs' policy.  Vinnie, why don't you explain it again so we's all on the same page, huh?"

For that matter, how does it work when you're an ambitious kid in the mob and you've got a lot of big ideas?  Seems like you'd go to the boss and give him your pitch like a junior executive would, right?  But most junior executives don't just go and make deals without letting the company know what they're doing.  Can you picture some Executive Assistant at McDonald's coming into the CEO's office more-or-less unannounced and being like, "Boss!  I got this great idea!  These two guys here run a robotics firm and we're going to buy it!"

In short, Harris's kid is a moron.  I guess that's a good enough reason for a movie to happen.