One of the films we saw at the pictures this week was Run All Night. We were fulling expecting it to be a Taken type of film, and it didn’t disappoint us on that count. It was, as usual, Liam Neeson running around killing people to protect his family.
The interesting twist in this film is that Jimmy (Liam Neeson) has two ethical codes, one for himself and one for his son (Mike). He believes that if his son kills someone, he will be dragged into the world of murder and hurting others, whereas if he leaves all of the killing to his dad, he may be able to go back to his normal life. His son also has a family to protect.
There is also the code of the underworld: Mike is hunted by his friend and former employer Shawn, because Shawn’s son Danny was about to kill Jimmy’s son Mike, so Jimmy killed Danny. So obviously Shawn wants Jimmy to feel the same pain he feels at losing his son. It is an eye-for-an-eye type of vengeance. If Mike stays safe all night and manages to protect his family then the threat will diminish, so he spends the night on the run, ending up at a cabin where he spent holidays as a child. Jimmy kills Shawn, and for expresses some remorse at his actions, holding him as he dies. He also bargains with the police officer who has not managed to punish him for his crimes, offering a list of his murders in exchange for his help to save his son. There is a poetic justice in the end where Jimmy dies with his list in his hand, but this may seem unsatisfactory, as he has had no punishment for his crimes.
We might not all run around killing people, but I do think there is an element of this dual ethics in all of us: what we do and what we think others should do are often very different. There is undoubtedly a level of hypocrisy in all of us, since we are not perfect, and often fail to live up to our own standards. But how harshly should we view those who don’t live up to our moral codes? Jimmy prevented Danny from killing in self-defense, though some of us would probably excuse someone whose only means of surviving is to kill another person. We generally don’t deal in such extreme circumstances, though, so don’t have to make these huge ethical decisions. However, we do sometimes have to make decisions on the spur of the moment, or under pressure, and don’t always get it right.
Run All Night was a good film, with lots of action, and deals with family values as well as murder and self-protection. It is what my husband calls a ‘boys’ film’ (which means it is the type we go to see when it is his turn to choose). It is entertaining.