Year 8, Day 143 - 5/22/16 - Movie #2,342
BEFORE: I had a couple of beers last night, and in honor of "Enemy at the Gates", I had one German Oktoberfest beer, and one Russian Imperial Stout, like I was re-enacting the Battle of Stalingrad in beer form. Maybe I missed my calling, because I'm fascinated by drink and food recipes, and sometimes I see that there are cinemas now that serve food and alcoholic beverages, sometimes themed to go with what's playing on the screen. If I had more prowess in designing cocktails, maybe I'd be able to pair a different beverage with my movie every day - like for today I'd design a drink called "Rum All Night", it would be something with rum, maybe kahlua for a coffee kick, a little Irish whiskey for Liam Neeson - essentially it would be either like an Irish coffee or a White Russian with some rum in it. But I've found that there are so many cocktails out there with so many names, chances are if you try to create a new one you're just copying what someone else has already come up with.
Ed Harris carries over from "Copying Beethoven", and I kick off a 5-film Liam Neeson chain.
THE PLOT: Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.
AFTER: This film is set on Christmas Eve, because perhaps Father's Day would have been too on-the-nose. It's all about fathers and sons, the head of the Irish mob and his main (ex-) hitman both have adult sons, one leads a life of crime and the other doesn't. But the hitman's son works as a limo driver, and this puts him in a position where he sees the mobster's son commit a crime, so he gets marked as a target. The hitman (Neeson) is sent out to make sure his son doesn't squeal, but the situation spirals out of control, and they're both pursued across New York City by mobsters and dirty cops. Well, at least the father and son have a bonding experience, and get to spend Christmas together.
Maybe Neeson wanted to play a shady character for once, after films like "Taken" and "Non-Stop" where he's the main hero, the only man that can step into the situation and make things right - this is a twist on that scenario because he's still the only man that can save his son, but he's got a long list of murders he's never been arrested for, and he's got to play both sides off each other to give his son a fighting chance. Not that he's completely selfless, because the only way to prove to the honest cop that his son is innocent is to turn himself in and confess to all of his crimes, but he doesn't seem prepared to do that either.
But we, the audience, know that there's got to be some kind of justice administered at some point - you don't bring up a list of murders (what's the NUMBER, Jimmy?) without suggesting that somehow, those scales are going to get balanced. The only question then might be about the extent of the collateral damage.
I know there's poetic license here, but considering the distances traveled, I find it hard to believe this could all take place during one night. The characters seem to bounce back and forth between Manhattan (Times Square and MSG area) and Queens, where I live. In fact, parts of this were filmed in areas of Queens like Ridgewood, Maspeth and Woodhaven, which I know well. But it would take an hour, at least, to get back and forth from there to Times Square, and neighborhoods like Maspeth don't have any subway lines, so that would make things even more difficult. Then there's a showdown at a cabin by a lake, that must be someplace upstate (shot in Putnam Valley, about a 45-min drive), so more travel time that's unaccounted for - on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day yet, where traveling around would be even more difficult.
NITPICK POINT: Would the Rangers and the Devils really play a hockey game on Christmas Eve? Don't most people want to just be home with their families, rather than at Madison Square Garden? Don't the athletes want to be home with their families, too? What about holiday overtime for all of the vendors and arena personnel? I'm no expert on the NHL schedule, but this seems unlikely.
Also starring Liam Neeson (last heard in "The Prophet"), Joel Kinnaman (last seen in "Robocop"), Boyd Holbrook (last seen in "Gone Girl"), Vincent D'Onofrio (last seen in "The Judge"), Bruce McGill (last seen in "Club Paradise"), Common (last seen in "Now You See Me"), Genesis Rodriguez (last heard in "Big Hero 6"), Holt McCallany (last seen in "Against the Ropes"), Lois Smith, Patricia Kalember, Aubrey Joseph, with a cameo from Nick Nolte (last heard in "Noah").
RATING: 6 out of 10 family photos