Liam Neeson gets down and dirty in a graveyard. Sort of.
I could start this review by making an half arsed joke about this being the prequel/sequel/.5 to the Taken movies, but I won’t. People expecting a Taken style action thriller my be slightly disappointed as this slower, more forlorn thriller verges on the noir. That being said though fans, don’t be discouraged just yet.
Based on the novel of the same name by author Lawerence Block, A Walk Among the Tombstones sees Neeson don his familiar coat of badass-ness again, this time as Matt Scudder, an ex-cop who has been forced to retire after a confrontation with criminals turns sour.
Now working as a private investigator, he finds himself living on the edges of society and dealing with dodgy characters. Enter shady drug kingpin, Kenny Kristo played by Dan Stevens, who wants Scudder to track down the identity of the mad men who kidnapped and gruesomely murdered his wife.
This encounter really sets the tone for the rest of the film. It’s a dark tale about the not very nice people. No one in this film really has any ‘good qualities’ and they’re all doing, or have done, bad things. You are tentatively on Scudders side, it’s Liam Neeson after all, but he still has plenty of skeletons in his closet. It’s refreshing, in a twisted kind of way, to see director Scott Frank not shying away from the inflection of this unsettling story and set characters as it really helps it set it apart from the other films that you’re probably going to associate this with. *Cough*Taken*Cough*
Rather than using his familiar ‘set of skills’, Neeson’s detective prowess takes centre stage picking conversation over violence, nevertheless, he still finds the appropriate time to throw a mean swing or two. As the film moves along, twisted affairs come to light that put this film closer to a serial-killer-horror-thriller seen in the likes of Maniac. (1980)
This shift in genres almost don’t sit well in the strongly established bleakness set up earlier, it flounders into territory that isn’t handled as well as it could have been. The references and influences of films like Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Se7en (1995) become noticeable, as if Frank had just ticked the boxes.
Neeson has managed to turn himself into a genre with some brilliant action movies and A Walk Among the Tombstones is absorbing, still as exciting and gripping as that other film you’re probably still thinking about but in a more ominous and subtle way.
Even the director really wants to let you know that it’s not another Taken movie: See Here In case you’re still not buying it all, then yes. There is absolutely a phone call scene, but it’s still pretty good.