Writer-director Scott Frank’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is one of those noir films featuring cynical characters with the intent of heinous crime and murder. It is all business in the dark territory where Liam Neeson plays a retired cop turned private unlicensed detective who takes up cases from criminals who are unable to ask the police for help. Looking at Frank’s earlier works (Minority Report and The Lookout), this too has its thrilling tone and may even hook you up till the end.
Liam Neeson has been known for the role of a vengeful action hero in the Taken series but this time it’s a bit different although the end result is the same. So far in Hollywood, probably, I like Matt Damon (Bourne series) or Liam Neeson in this kind of one-man-army show. They have different styles of onscreen presence with their imposing personality and tonality.
Here is the movie trailer for “A Walk Among the Tombstones”
Coming to the storyline, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is inspired by writer Lawrence Block’s long-running crime novel series of the same name. The story goes like this: Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) is approached by a drug trafficker Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) to investigate the kidnapping of his wife. While reluctantly Scudder accepts the offer, what he finds later are two psychopaths who are in their vicious act of kidnapping, murdering, and mutilating their victims.
The film doesn’t keep much suspense until the end. In fact, it almost reveals everything halfway and only tempts us to see how soon detective Scudder reaches the criminal. Both the negative characters in the movie are well sketched by David Harbour and Adam David Thompson. The idea of kidnapping and killing is not just in their motives; their psychic thoughts to inflict unbearable pain on the victims are terrifying.
As the narrative moves and the kidnappers are eyeing their next victim, Scudder takes the help of a smart and blunt kid T.J. (Brian “Astro” Bradley) who talks all in slang and who cares nothing but himself, and aims to be a detective taking inspirations from the literature of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. The film also gives us Scudder’s past with an opening prologue when he was an alcoholic and how his bullet once hit a young girl on the street.
Although Liam Neeson is yet again a gun-holding ex-cop in this film, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” can be considered as one of his best performances. Other than the Taken series (including Taken 3), Nesson is also admired for films such as Schindler’s List, The Grey, and Love Actually. While some of his later films established him as an action hero, he is truly a versatile actor to do justice to a more sophisticated role as Matt Scudder.
‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ – Based on the 1992 bestselling mystery novel series by Lawrence Block. The film follows a drug kingpin who hires the troubled ex-cop, Matt Scudder, to find his wife’s killers, a hunt that leads to shocking revelations in New York’s underworld.
Directed and screenplay by Scott Frank
Cast: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Brian Bradley, and Boyd Holbrook.
Written and directed by Scott Frank
Cinematography: Mihai Mălaimare Jr.
Release Date/Year: September 19, 2014