Jaume Collet-Serra's Run All Night, a shoot-'em-up about an out-to-pasture hit man desperate to keep his boss and best friend from whacking his son, is humid with testosterone. Weary killer Jimmy the Gravedigger is played by 62-year-old Liam Neeson, Collet-Serra's muse, both men still enjoying the afterglow of 2008's Taken. Look into Neeson's eyes and know, even if the dialogue can't quite express it, that this man understands death.
His Jimmy finds some comfort in his friend Shawn (Ed Harris), a rich crook attempting to go straight. But thanks to a too-coincidental collision between Jimmy's son Michael (Joel Kinnaman), Shawn's son Danny (Boyd Holbrook), and a couple Albanian heroin dealers, the two old lions are forced to hunt each other to defend their families. Collet-Serra is so excited to unleash Neeson that the film spins itself silly with swooping zooms and portentous lightning claps. They're the directorial flourishes of a guy who wants to impress. But flagrant CGI doesn't quite fit a story as musty as this -- it's the equivalent of a shoe salesman swaggering into a nightclub with a backwards cap.
It all works for a while because Neeson has hooked us on his character's woes. We care about this defeated man, even as we agree that his only value is as a human shield. In an early phone call, Shawn warns Jimmy, "You know how this has to end." He does, and so do we. The only questions are whether he'll be able to die on his own terms, and if he deserves to.