A Walk Among the Tombstones
We're about six years now into the reinvention of
Irish actor Liam Neeson. Once best known for brainy dramas, like the
real-life title characters in historical films Schindler's List and
Kinsey, since Taken in 2009, Neeson 2.0 is more of a kick-ass
action star. The change in direction has certainly raised Neeson's stature
in the stratosphere of Hollywood. Ironically as his vehicles got cheesier,
his standing in the movie business has only risen.
Now he is considered a leading man – a thinking
man's Bruce Willis or Sly Stallone. While very few of his films in this new
mode have captured the giddy junk-food highs of Taken, Neeson has
become a very reliable movie hero.
Walk Among the Tombstones
starts with a leg up
right off the bat, because it actually has very strong source material. In
the film Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a former-cop-turned-private eye in a
series of books by crime novelist Lawrence Block. In fact, the film feels
like the starts of what could be a pretty decent series of films, which I
suppose will depend on the popular reaction to this first salvo. (The
Scudder character had previously appeared on screen in the flawed 1986 film
called Eight Million Ways to Die.)
For the record, A Walk Among the Tombstones
disappeared with barely a trace when playing cinemas briefly last year,
however now that it is getting video and VOD release (with cable to come),
perhaps this smart crime story will capture its audience.
A Walk Among the Tombstones stars Neeson as Scudder, a recovering
alcoholic who quit his job as a respected policeman after an off-duty
gunfight with three armed robbers goes horribly awry. He's become an
unlicensed P.I. ("Sometimes I help people," he explains. "Sometimes they
reward me for it.") Mostly, though, he spends his time in AA meetings
trying to maintain his sobriety.The film is somewhat superfluously set in 1999,
right as Y2K panic is taking hold. (I'm assuming this choice of time period
comes from the book, because it really adds very little to the story.)
It is through these meetings that Scudder reconnects
with Pete (Boyd Holbrook), a former junkie on parole. Pete wants to connect
Scudder with his brother Kenny (Dan Stevens), a drug dealer whose wife was
kidnapped. Despite paying the ransom she was killed and the body was cut
into small pieces, left in an abandoned car trunk. Kenny wants to find out
who the kidnappers were to extract his own revenge.
Scudder immediately refuses to help, but eventually
Kenny convinces him to look into the killing. It quickly becomes apparent
that the two killers have struck before at least a few times. However, the
deeper he gets into the mystery, the more questions remain.
The film shows the killers throughout – barely named
through most of the film, though eventually called Ray (David Harbour) and
Albert (Adam Davis Thompson). They are somehow involved in an underground
snuff video world. The gregarious Ray appears to be the ringleader –
Harbour's generic handsomeness adds a chill to his character's horrific acts
– but it eventually turns out the Albert is the truly cold-blooded one.
Scudder slowly and tirelessly tracks them down, with
the help of a homeless black teen (Brian "Astro" Bradley), leading to the
It's not exactly the
most original story ever, but it is chilling and intelligently rendered.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is not a great film, but it is certainly one
of Neeson's better action movies.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January