RUN ALL NIGHT
DIRECTED BY Jaume Collet-Serra
STARS Liam Neeson, Joel Kinnaman
Run, Liam, run! All night if you have to! (Photo: Warner Bros.)
Back in 2002, a few years before she nabbed an Oscar for The Hurt Locker and additional kudos for Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow directed the leaden submarine drama K-19: The Widowmaker. The box office flop starred Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, and I can't help but imagine that the following conversation took place on the set.
Neeson: "I loved making Schindler's List and Rob Roy and Michael Collins and after the upcoming Kinsey hope to continue to star in films that offer me rich and complex roles!"
Ford: "Take my advice. Forget about making quality films and go instead for the biggest paychecks."
Neeson: "You're kidding."
Ford: "Hell, no. Just the other day, I told a crew member on this very picture that I keep my soul under a pile of money!" [True anecdote.]
Neeson: "But you were in all these great movies like Witness and The Mosquito Coast and Presumed Innocent!"
Ford: "Sure, but I learned the error of my ways. Did you know I was offered a key role in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic? But I wouldn't have been paid my usual kazillion dollars, so I wisely passed on it and Michael Douglas took the part. And I'm turning down this upcoming movie called Syriana — let George Clooney have it; he might even believe it will win him an Oscar! Instead, I'm gonna collect a huge paycheck to make some piece of crap called Hollywood Homicide with a young actor named Josh Hairnet or something. I'll pretty much be in anything as long as the money's substantial, though I imagine I would draw the line at appearing in a Sylvester Stallone vanity project. I think that's beneath even me."
Neeson: "So Steven Spielberg and I have been talking for years about making a movie about Abraham Lincoln. You're saying I should tell him I changed my mind and see who'll pay me top dollar to star in dime-a-dozen action flicks instead?"
Ford: "Definitely! Some might be good, but that's incidental. Say you make one about a guy whose daughter is taken from him. A plot like that holds promise, and if it's successful, then you can get paid even more to star in its crummy sequels. Or you might make one that's not especially good, something with a generic title like Run All Night or Sleep All Day or Binge-Watch All Week. To beef up the marquee, you can probably find some great actor to appear under you — heh heh, kinda like your role under me in this submarine picture. He can play the villain; maybe somebody reliable like Gene Hackman — unless he's retired by then — or that wacky Christopher Walken or Ed Harris. Yeah, get Ed Harris! And make sure the plot is pretty standard; nothing too complicated. Maybe it can be about a former assassin who has to protect a family member from the bad guys – maybe a son, and have them cast some flavorless TV actor so they can pay him less and pay you more."
Neeson: "I don't know, that sounds kinda bland."
Ford: "Who cares? Who cares if it's tired material, or has cardboard characters or narrative coincidences or gaping plotholes the size of the Grand Canyon? You can let the critics bitch while you laugh all the way to the bank. Now excuse me, I have to call my agent and figure out my asking salary for K-19: The Widowmaker 2 after this one becomes a Star Wars-size hit."