Director: Scott Frank
Stars: Liam Neeson, David Harbour, Adam David Thompson, Dan Stevens, Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley, Maurice Compte
Matt Scudder (Neeson) is an unlicensed private detective, doing ‘favours’ for people and in return receiving ‘gifts’. Someone from his AA group approaches him with a case, and as Scudder investigates he uncovers a trail of dead bodies and two unhinged serial killers that show no signs of stopping.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is a pretty standard thriller that harkens back to films like Dirty Harry. It’s hard-edged and doesn’t rely on flashy twists or an over-complicated narrative. But what that means is that every bullet fired has a real impact and tension simmers throughout the film, as we are waiting for things to explode.
Neeson is as good as you would expect here. He’s got the brooding, no-nonsense character down to a tee now and he provides the tough anchor to the film. The memorable characters revolve around him. TJ (Bradley) stole the show for me, I loved his relationship with Scudder and he brought some extra pathos and levity to the film. The killers themselves provided some moments of irreverent humour as they had a kind of crazy, dangerous unpredictability that was idiosyncratic.
I was impressed by one of Frank’s other films – The Lookout and this shows the same stylish direction. The past and present have different tones, and I felt he captured the mood of 1999 quite well. My main complaint is with the trailer because it gives a couple of moments away that I feel would have had more impact had I not seen them already, and it’s a shame because I think if would give the film a bit more impact. I also feel that it peaked at the graveyard scene and after that it felt like it was merely tying up loose ends.
If you enjoy old school thrillers like Dirty Harry then I think this film will really appeal to you. I believe some people will get turned off by the slow pace and lack of action, but it didn’t bother me. I enjoyed it, and the way the relationships were crafted gave the film some extra life.