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Movie Review

The number of world-weary former hit men is apparently approaching 23% of the general population these days. Jimmy Conlon is one of them, known on the streets as the Gravedigger. And in spite of the fact that he now does nearly everything humanly possible to drink himself into oblivion on a daily basis, he's still plagued by the names, the grieving families and the bloody faces of all the men he's made a mess of. No matter how staggering and stupid he gets, he still can't handle the heavy, heavy cost of his dirty deeds done cheap.

It was childhood chum Shawn Maguire who called all those shots and assigned all those hits. And he clearly understands the pain his friend feels. Back as kids, when they hit the streets together, they did what they thought they had to do. But it was loyal Jimmy on the front lines. His were the bloody hands that dealt with foe and friend. "Don't you worry," Shawn told his pal. "When the final day comes, we're goin' in together, me and you."

But that's not going to be the way it plays out.

In spite of their lifelong love, blood, as they say, is thicker than water. When Shawn's hothead boy, Danny, defies his dad and makes completely foolish choices that threaten Jimmy's boy, Mike, Jimmy has to step in. He may be a drunk, but seeing a maniac move to kill his only kid sobers him up in a hurry.

The old instincts start kicking in, and his trigger finger starts feeling itchy. Next thing you know, Shawn's son is lying in a pool of his own blood.

A man like Jimmy knows what this means, of course. It's not just his skin in this one. His son has a pregnant wife and a couple of kids already. Sadly, Jimmy doesn't know any of them; his own choices pushed them all out of his life long ago. But he knows they'll all be dead by morning unless he does what only a man like him knows how to do.

There's no street-forged loyalty any longer. No explaining or reason. There's just one night to steady a shaking hand and stay clear-eyed enough to save someone worth saving. And kill someone who needs killing.

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Positive Elements

Jimmy's life is a mess and has been for a long time. But we learn that at least some of his past choices were made in an effort to insulate his beloved son from the family business, you might say. Jimmy repeatedly moves to keep Mike from taking a life and becoming "no better than me." In fact, as Jimmy spends the night protecting Mike and his loved ones—in the full and sure knowledge that his actions with result in his own death—it draws the estranged father and son together.

Mike's wife introduces Jimmy to his grandkids for the first time, giving the man at least a thin thread of connection to the family he longed for but knew he would never have.

Detective Harding asks Jimmy for a full list of the people he's killed over the years so that, if nothing else, their families might get long-needed closure. Jimmy eventually gives him that list. Mike works with underprivileged kids in a boxing gym, and we see him take one youngster under his wing and encourage him to make wise choices.

Spiritual Content

Jimmy points out that he always knew the horridness of his life would eventually catch up with him. "No sin goes unpunished in this life," he tells us. We see a cross hanging on the hit man's living room wall and another imprinted on a Catholic hospital's stationary.

Sexual Content

Jimmy crudely jokes about his sexual size and prowess. A drug kingpin orders up some specifically "gifted" prostitutes.

Violent Content

This film's title may suggest a night full of breathless running, but it's really more a dark stretch of brutal assault and certain death. Jimmy and his son are pounded and bloodied in brawls, car chases and gunfights. Both are smeared with increasing amounts of crimson as the night rolls on. Jimmy ends up with at least three bullets in him, one of which leaves a gruesome-looking hole in his shoulder.

Jimmy's aim may be a little shaky at first, but before the sun rises he's back in "fine" hit man form, clearing a tavern full of thugs with pinpoint blasts to the head and face, and grabbing a rifle to send slugs through distant blood-spewing targets. A shot he delivers to someone's throat leaves the man gurgling and bleeding out.

Another hit man eventually joins the massacre march, and his targets most often are unsuspecting cops; bullets and knives find their marks in backs, throats and heads. A man is choked to death with a towel. Another is stabbed repeatedly with a switchblade. Somebody gets a broken bottle neck jammed into his leg. A guy's face is seared as he's pushed against a burning wall.

And the vicious eviscerations and crazy contusions just continue and continue and continue.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 20 f-words and 15 s-words. Handfuls of uses of "a--," "b--ch" and "h--." Jesus' name is misused four or five times; God's is combined with "d--n" about that same number.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Jimmy is drunk when we meet him, and it's clear he's been doing that to himself for a while now. We also see other mob figures, including Shawn, drink booze at a Christmas party and to combat stress. Shawn's son mixes his alcohol with snorts of cocaine, and he tries to set up a drug deal with a heroin kingpin. Various characters smoke cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

The good guys? The cops? Well, all but one are on the take in this dark city. We see several receiving their "Christmas" bribes from the mob. Two falsely accuse Mike of murder. Jimmy steals a car and makes racist comments.

Conclusion

Though he's actually been quite prolific and varied in his film roles over the last handful of years, most of Liam Neeson's higher profile characters have been guys who get good at dusting off their deadly skills while running around killing baddies just slightly "badder" than they.

The excessive drinking and the weariness we see this time around certainly speaks to the true wages of wet work (the deadly deeds hit men do). And the father-son relationship is redemptive. But we've worn this same sweaty coat, been pummeled with these same obscene words, chugged these same glasses of scotch and splattered the contents of these same thuggish noggins with this same broken-nosed Irishman far too many times now for any of it to mean anything more than murder, mayhem and madness.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Liam Neeson as Jimmy Conlon; Ed Harris as Shawn Maguire; Joel Kinnaman as Mike Conlon; Boyd Holbrook as Danny Maguire; Common as Andrew Price; Genesis Rodriguez as Gabriela Conlon; Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Harding

Director

Jaume Collet-Serra ( Non-StopUnknownOrphanHouse of Wax)

Distributor

Warner Bros.

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 13, 2015

On Video

June 16, 2015

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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