Before you start complaining about yet another movie about Liam Neeson’s “particular set of skills”, know that A Walk Among the Tombstones is a couple of notches above his recent output. Tombstones is a little darker, a bit more mean spirited, and a lot more entertaining.
Oddly enough, Neeson himself seems lighter on his feet, as opposed to the grim, preternaturally obfuscated Neeson from The Grey, Taken and Non-Stop. The most unexpected action hero of the decade is Scudder, a former NYPD officer turned underworld detective. Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin (Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey) to find the guys who murdered his wife, a particularly vicious couple of psychopaths. Turns out the victim is just the tip of the iceberg, and the more the detective finds out, the nastier the investigation becomes.
Director Steve Frank, responsible for the very good (if little seen) The Lookout sets the film in a pre-9/11 New York, which gives the movie an extra layer of tension. A Walk Among the Tombstones is not as grimy as the 70’s crime thrillers, but it’s obviously inspired by them. The identity of the killers is never an issue. The question is if Scudder will be able to outwit the pervs, a force of evil to reckon.
A potentially problematic decision, the idea of giving Liam Neeson a sassy sidekick (a homeless 12-year old boy), provides the film with some fresh air. There is nothing really new with A Walk Among the Tombstones, but it’s well put together. These days, it’s not a small feat. Three prairie dogs.
It occurred to me that…
…Dan Stevens is making very interesting choices after quitting Abbey. Besides his strong turn here, his upcoming role in The Guest should turn him into a household name.
…the Y2K references fall very flat.
…give Liam Neeson a phone and you have a movie.