I am almost positive that Liam Neeson is required by law to film at least one movie a year where a family member of his is in trouble, and he’s the only person with a special set of skills, who can save them. Why? Because nobody does menacing threats like Liam Neeson.
This one does offer a unique twist. Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) is an assassin on the edge of retirement. After killing about 20 people for his buddy/crime boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), he’s sitting in booze filled retirement, living in a hovel and ignoring his only son Michael (Joel Kinnaman). Then, the two are drawn back together. That’s because Michael witnessed a brutal murder, committed by Shawn’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook). Of course, Jimmy tries to fix things with Danny. But as Danny is a crazy hothead, Jimmy is forced to kill him instead. Then, father and son go on the run, trying to get away from a mobster hell bent on revenge.
I like the newest trend in mobster movies. In the days of Good Fellas and Casino, mobsters were glamorized and put on some kind of common man crime boss pedestal. These days, we see these mobsters through a darker, and likely more realistic, lens. Jimmy is a more probable assassin than you would see in any other movie. He’s tortured over the things he’s done, to the point where he drinks himself unconscious every night. His involvement in organized crime has destroyed his life and ruined his relationship with his family. In this, I think the movie stays relatively realistic.
The screenplay could have been a bit tighter. The entire thing kind of hinges on a major coincidence. Michael just happens to be the limo driver for Danny the night that Danny decides to kill two drug dealers. Some of the fights were a bit over the top as well. While I expect crime movies to be gory, I do not expect the hero to have a superhuman ability to withstand any hit and still live.
On top of the action, we also see the complexities of Jimmy and Michael’s relationship. We learn that Jimmy’s abandonment of Michael was done to protect his son from the corruption in his own life. While Michael sees it as abandonment, Jimmy sees it as the only selfless thing he’s ever done. I think this is a unique twist on the relationship.
The relationship between Shawn and Jimmy is equally complex. On one hand, Jimmy loves his boss for their friendship, but on the other, he resents him as playing a pivotal roll in the life he regrets. That rift becomes insurmountable when Shawn loses his son, causing the two friends to become mortal enemies. In this, you can really see the character motivation. Lot’s of this had to do with Ed Harris’ impressive acting abilities and his chemistry with the usually wooden faced Neeson. It’s like Neeson fed off of Harris’ abilities, because I saw some range from him that I haven’t seen before.
All in all, this was a stylish, tense crime drama with a lot of action. There are lots of fights for the blood thirsty crowd, and enough drama for people who prefer their crime movies gritty. A bit of comic relief might have broken up some of the tension, but regardless of that, I have to call this a commendable effort. I was expecting yet another Taken and instead, I got something a bit closer to Iceman.
WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!