German cinematographer Martin Ruhe must adore elevated trains. There are more of them in his Run All Night than characters. They are a New York staple, but Run All Night is so indebted to them, it may as well list the public transport on the cast.

Underneath said trains is Liam Neeson, running through the city, usually with a gun in hand. His Jimmy Conlon is a binge drinker and hard smoker, which outside of Zeus in Clash of the Titans, is a common thread for the now action superstar. If it’s not a gun, it’s scotch.

Run All Night follows Neeson through a median crime thriller, with Ed Harris sulking in shadows as his goons march onto the streets to find both Jimmy and Mike Conlon who are caught in a distressed father/son relationship. It’s a story base to work from. People turn up dead, Jimmy and Mike work out their issues in a corrosive, violent form of family therapy. They even ride a train, and yes, it’s elevated.

Violence is casual, a soft R where each shot is more numbing than the last.

Gliding on well built tension, Run All Night will have those scenes of people hiding behind things as their killer marches through the room, just in the camera’s eye line. There are slow deaths and fast deaths, car deaths, cop deaths, and crime boss deaths. Violence is casual, a soft R where each shot is more numbing than the last. No character in this film should probably have access to a gun. But they do and the safety is never on. They’re always ready to fire.

Set during Christmas merely to grime the piece up further, Run All Night has grit. It’s dark, or maybe “light averse.” Not even the Christmas lights make a dent in the shadows. The few explosions are flashes of relief from the purposefully oppressive tone. Such a contrast works. A fireball is like a release valve, both from the tension and the limiting moonlight.

Run All Night is unusual for its pace, taking time to build up rich (if predictable) backstories for key players, and wring all of the material from its daddy issues conflict in the middle. At times, Run All Night is striking in its portrayal of survival despite the severity of the action. Flipping cars, gas line breaks, public shoot-outs; it is all quite ridiculous, if controlled enough to seem plausible within context. Within the shaping of an action piece, Run All Night does well to construct the family unit and the natural instinct to protect. It’s sharp. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]

RoboCop looks angry @ 30:09

Refreshingly captured on a grain-heavy film stock, Run All Night will create some competition for Warner’s encode. To the studio’s credit, there are no compression concerns to take notice of. Outside of mild smoothing to Liam Neeson’s face – at the source – this comes through on Blu-ray as natural, clean, and filmic. Even during the fog-layered finale, there are no issues to be concerned with.

Behind the grain is a pleasingly photographed feature, bursting with high-fidelity imagery. Facial definition (again, except Neeson) is exquisite. City exteriors and aerials, pieced together with some inventive CGI-aided cuts, prove beautiful. These are some of the best nighttime views of New York’s skyline on film.

Where the film angle falls apart is color grading. Obsessive bouts of orange and teal cut out flesh tones, almost entirely at certain points. The digital nature of the hues is unmistakable, robbing the imagery of a natural appearance.

By the same token, black levels can be pinched through the same effect, shifting into browns instead of pure black. However, when Run All Night wants true black, it will produce it without impact to shadows (mostly). Depth is sensational at these peaks. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

A few sonically active sequences are special. Run All Night features a grandiose car chase, mixed with fervor as the rapid cuts require constantly shifting placement. Engines and bumped fenders produce the LFE weight.

For a 7.1 mix though, the surrounds are generally discarded. Gunshots rarely pan through and the spread feels mitigated. At their best, specifically inside of a burning building with flaming table legs being swung across the screen, the surround channels are notable. Stereos too. Elsewhere, from the open air finish to a small shoot-out amongst stalled train cars, they feel absent.

However, the elevated trains sound great. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

Shoot All Night is first in a menial bonus package, a plot recap featurette with only a little behind-the-scenes material. Liam Neeson: Action All Night is a praise session for the older actor followed by a 16-minute reel of deleted scenes. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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