Liam Neeson reprises his well-known role of “badass taking down bad men” in Scott Frank’s “A Walk Among the Tombstones.”
Based on Lawrence Block’s novel, the movie is centered on an ex-policeman, named Matt Scudder, played by Liam Neeson, who has spent the last eight years taking cases as a private investigator. An explosive opening prologue shows us Scudder’s origin story, an occurrence in 1991 when, while working as a cop in New York City, he expertly guns down some thugs after they kill a bartender at his favorite pub.
Eight years later, he’s attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
The plot kicks into gear when a fellow AA goer asks Scudder if he can find his missing sister-in-law. Scudder agrees to help, and soon discovers that two criminals are responsible; they performed the kidnapping and ruthlessly murdered the woman. As Scudder digs deeper into the case, he learns this isn’t the first time these men have killed, and it won’t be the last.
Most of the movie features Scudder traversing the streets of Brooklyn, following clues and leads, and even befriending a homeless teenager named T.J., played by Brian Bradley, who adds a sense of partnered detective work.
Frank’s crime drama is more of a thriller than action flick. In regard to tone, he does an excellent job of creating an unsettling atmosphere for Scudder to tip toe around in, and the gloomy, rainy streets of New York give off a combination of a melancholy and noir style film. There were some moments in the film that were hard to stomach, namely when the film would shift focus to the two murderers, played by David Harbour and Adam David Thompson, and their methods of killing.
Neeson’s Scudder is by definition a “badass,” but a very different kind of badass than what we’ve seen in his previous works. His character in the film often utilizes smarts over punching first and asking questions later, but it doesn’t quite fix the issue of the story being very simplistic and having a dull plot.
Neeson’s “particular set of skills” doesn’t save this movie from a 6 out of 10. I apologize for that lackluster reference, all the good Liam Neeson jokes are…taken.