Synopsis: Formerly a detective with the NYPD, now a recovering alcoholic haunted by regrets, Matt Scudder has a lot to make up for. When a series of kidnappings targeting the city’s worst drug criminals escalates to grisly murder, the circuit’s ruthless leader convinces Scudder to find the culprits and bring them to bloody justice. Working as an unlicensed private detective, Matt sees what the police don’t see and treads where they most fear to. Operating just outside the law to track down the monsters responsible, Scudder stops just short of becoming one himself.
Release Date: September 19, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Action
It’s official: Liam Neeson has been typecast. He played the badass a little too well in Taken, and now he can’t get away from using his “very particular set of skills.” His latest badass role comes courtesy of A Walk Among the Tombstones.
A Walk Among the Tombstones stars Neeson as Matt Scudder, a recovering alcoholic ex-cop/current private investigator in New York who is hired by a drug dealer named Kenny Kristo (The Fifth Estate‘s Dan Stevens) to find the men who murdered his wife. Kenny is bent on revenge, but Matt finds a bigger problem. While investigating the case, Matt discovers that Kenny’s wife is not the only victim of the killers; the men have made a habit of kidnapping the wives and girlfriends of high-profile drug kingpins and extorting ransom from them, only to end up killing the women anyway. With the help of Kenny, Kenny’s brother (Eric Nelsen from “All My Children”), and a street kid named T.J. (Brian “Astro” Bradley from Earth to Echo), Matt has to track down the killers before they strike again.
The screenplay for A Walk Among the Tombstones was adapted from the novel, which also features Matt Scudder) by Scott Frank (Minority Report), who also directed the film. It starts out promisingly enough as a tale of revenge and redemption, of a man with demons from his past helping another man with demons in his present. The problem is that it’s all downhill after the setup. Neeson’s snooping around gets old fast. Even when Neeson’s character is being the badass that everyone knows and loves, it’s all talk; after the opening scene, there’s not a bit of action in the film until the last ten minutes. And by then, it’s too late.
What’s frustrating about A Walk Among the Tombstones is that the technical elements of the film are well done. It is well shot, well scored, and well-acted (if it even is acting – by now, Liam Neeson might have just become that guy in real life). It’s a well-made film. Unfortunately, the plot plods along too slowly, and the storyline is so generic that the film just becomes boring. The most beautiful visuals in the world are nothing without a compelling story; there’s only so much following and spying that an audience can take before they start expecting something exciting to happen, and that something never comes in A Walk Among the Tombstones.
There’s nothing new to A Walk Among the Tombstones. Everyone has basically seen this movie. Heck, everyone has basically seen Liam Neeson in this movie. It’s strictly a paint-by-numbers crime thriller/detective story with very little to offer in the way of suspense or intrigue. There are a handful of surprises, but even those are given away in the trailer. If you want to check the movie out, you should not ruin it by watching the trailer. On the other hand, watching the trailer will save you the trouble of sitting through the movie.
The most impressive aspect of A Walk Among the Tombstones is the cinematography. The film was shot by Mihai Malaimare Jr. (The Master, +1), and it looks great. Malaimare uses a lot of tight close-ups and selective focus to keep things mysterious for as long as possible. There are plenty of low shots, taken from ground or knee level, that create a sense of foreboding and dread. Much of the film is shot with telephoto lenses that compress the backgrounds, giving the whole frame a sense of movement and fluidity when the focal plane is changed. It all adds up to a very well shot film, with scenes that seem to breathe with life. He may not be able to fix the story problems, but Mihai Malaimare Jr. makes A Walk Among the Tombstones look fantastic.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Scott Frank
- Screenwriter(s): Scott Frank
- Cast: Liam Neeson (Matt Scudder)Sebastian Roche (Yuri Landau)Mark Consuelos (Reuben)
- Editor(s): Jill Savitt
- Cinematographer: Mihal Malaimare Jr.
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Carlos Rafael Rivera
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA