Thursday, 12 February 2015

A Walk Among The Tombstones - 2nd Look

Out now on Blu-Ray and DVD, A Walk Among The Tombstones is, at first glance, the latest film in Liam Neeson’s geriatric action career. But A Walk Among The Tombstones isn’t just another film that could fit into the Taken franchise, and it’s much better because of it.


The film is based on the best selling novels by Lawrence Block and is an adaptation of the book by the same name. It follows former alcoholic cop, now sober P.I; Matt Scudder, as he tries to unravel the case of a drug dealer’s dead wife. As he digs deeper he finds the case is linked to other, similar cases and he also unearths ties to the DEA and a handful of weird characters. The film is set in 1999 (with a flashback being set in 1991) and the film uses this setting to show how out of touch Matt is. He can’t use computers, he doesn’t have a mobile phone, and is just all around living in the past. The film reflects this retro setting throughout and the result is a pleasingly old-school hard boiled thriller. It’s in stark contrast to one of Neeson’s last thrillers, the awesome Non-Stop, which used modern phones and technology as a main plot focus. But in A Walk Among The Tombstones Neeson’s character has none of this and he feels a little more reminiscent of noir gumshoes of old like Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe, a fact cheekily referenced within the film by Scudder’s young sidekick TJ. Unlike those classic film characters though, who featured in films made during the heavily censored production code era, A Walk Among The Tombstones is a dark and seedy look into the New York underworld and Scudder has a back story more depressing than any of those guys. Without spoiling it, one of the very best scenes in the film is the opening of the film when we see Neeson as an alcoholic cop and we find out just what made him quit and give up the booze.


Don’t go into the film expecting another Taken though. The advertisements may have shown it as that (they even used a still from Taken for the video above) but A Walk Among The Tombstones is slower and more methodical than Taken. Neeson isn’t just running around punching foreign people in the throat, the deduction and actual detective work is an important aspect of the film, and is actually some of the best stuff in it. Another strong point in the film is Liam Neeson’s performance. He really sells the role of the downbeat, lonely old guy and his performance is one of the reasons his tragic backstory works so well. Another strong part is the role of the rich dealer with the murdered wife, played by Dan Stevens. He also sells the role and manages to make the world of drug smuggling seem almost relatable. The cast are good all-around and really help sell this realistic noir-ish thriller which may have fallen apart slightly with lesser performances.


Director Scott Frank also does a good job selling this world to us, filming everything stylishly but not as so to distract us. The opening sequence of the film is one of the particularly well directed sections and sets the film off on a good foot. And despite me earlier saying the film is not another Taken, it does have a couple of great, but small, action sequences. The film may be too straight forward for some though, and with some of the subject matter it might be too dark for them too. This won’t be a problem for most though, and with a film called A Walk Among The Tombstones you should really know the film won’t be all that light. The film doesn’t occupy itself with major twists or turns; it’s just a solid, well made, stylish, pitch black thriller. And if that’s what you’re looking for then you could a lot worse than A Walk Among The Tombstones.

A Walk Among The Tombstones gets a very good 4/5.

★★★★☆

Tom Bumby


A Walk Among The Tombstones at CeX


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