by Jason Suzuki
NOTE: This was a self-made double feature. There is no theater currently showing these films in a double-bill.
One is a Linklater paced romance for an American (Lou Taylor Pucci) abroad in Italy, running away from grief and trouble with the law, with eventual doses of the Lovecraftian when he meets the potential love of his life (Nadia Hilker). The other is a fathers and sons actioneer where in the midst of a cat and mouse revenge plot a father (Liam Neeson) tries to find redemption for his murderous past by protecting his son from the hit placed on him. At times the film structures itself around the heaven and hell idea, Neeson and Harris are two fathers whose may be connected and friends (at the start at least) but as far as their standard of living goes it’s a dichotomy across train tracks.
What’s interesting about this pairing is the role that parents have in each one. Evan (Pucci) sits by his mother’s deathbed at the very start of the film, he death is just one of the factors why he runs off to spend some time in Italy, it being a place his father and him were going to go before his death a few years before his mother’s. Inadvertently he is going to find some closure for his parents while there. Mike (Joel Kinnaman) has started his own family and wants nothing to do with his father Jimmy (Neeson) who has spent his life performing hits for crime boss Ed Harris. When he witness a crime committed by Harris’ kid, Jimmy takes this as an opportunity to wash away the regrets he has not only for what his choices did to his relationship to his family but also the basic human guilt he feels for taking lives
From the directors of the low budget but highly creative Resolution, Benson and Moorhead have created another genre mash-up that is so much more than any of the visceral thrills the horror elements may provide. They wisely let Pucci and Hilker have time to develop their chemistry making it feel organic and not forced. They also slowly build to the horror elements of the script so that they too feel organic and tied into themes of love as something the body can sense and you have no conscious say in the matter.
Both films are essentially about attempts made to break the cycles we find ourselves in, whether they’ve been going on for part of a lifetime or thousands of years; attempts made to make up for lost time or bring meaning to what’s been too much time. Spring lets the characters be, not forcing too much plot development on them which makes it first and foremost a romance rather than a monster movie. Run All Night has the heart but you just wish it would push the form a little bit further. This is an action movie after all. But above all you wish the genre elements had more time to create fluid links with the film’s themes of regret and redemption. And as seen in Spring, sometimes it’s best to just sit the camera down and see what can evolve besides Hilker’s bodily transformations.
Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.