Review

With over 100 acting credits in both television and film (according to IMDB), actor Liam Neeson has experienced a resurgence in the last couple years and in doing so, has become a bonafide action star.  At the tender age of 62 and credits from every type of role, Neeson has found a new go-to character in his films, the bad-ass, no nonsense, or simply a man who tries to do right in a twisted and cruel world.  Since 2008’s Taken, studios and filmmakers rightfully keep putting Neeson into these roles, with both critical and box office success.  Although he still lends his voice to animated projects or supports a movie as a character actor, most of the current generation knows him as the “dude from Taken”.  Neeson is a great actor and could do whatever he wants, but it’s the roles like in A Walk Among the Tombstones that set Neeson apart from your typical action star.  The dude can act, and in a movie like this, raises the film to a level most wouldn’t be able to.  A Walk Among the Tombstones is an average movie made better by the presence of Liam Neeson.

a-walk-among-the-tombstones-liam-neesonA Walk Among the Tombstones has a familiar plot of a former NYPD detective Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson), now a private detective, hired by a local drug dealer to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.  That’s pretty much it as far as the plot is concerned.  Neeson sets out to find the killer or killers and confronted with darkness and death in attempt to find answers.

To be clear, A Walk Among the Tombstones isn’t as action packed as many of Neeson’s last couple of movies.  It is not Taken or The Grey, it’s a slower story that builds on the information it delves out.  It feels like a classic noir story, without any of the fantastic stylistic elements that make a true noir (over use of shadows, femme fatals, and key camera placements).  Although it still feels like a more modernized noir rather than a goofy over-the-top action movie.

a-walk-among-the-tombstones-liam-neeson-2The movie isn’t bad, and it’s not great either.  The plot of a former cop with an alcohol problem has been beaten to death in the movies.  A Walk Among the Tombstonesadds nothing new to the genre and feels like everything here has been seen before.  The film would have worked better in the early 90’s, and suffers from an overused premise with a knack for spoiling the mystery entirely too early.

Another problem I had with the film is that the mysteries and suspense of finding the killers, and even the confrontation had no elements of surprise.  What wasn’t ruined by the early reveals in the movie were ruined by trailers leading up to its release that spoiled sections of the movie.  I had two girls sitting behind me at my screening who knew exactly what was going to happen and openly talked about it right before the scene played out.  This was a screening that was a week before the official release date, so these girls knowing this much about the plot was alarming.  The film is walking cliché that only would have truly worked in the 80’s or 90’s.  Nothing new to see here, move along.

walk-among-tombstones-1With the current weak slate of the movies being released A Walk Among the Tombstones isn’t a terrible way to spend a night at the theaters, just don’t expect to see anything new.  Scott Frank shot a beautiful looking movie with a dark undertone and is certainly a well acted, it’s just hard to truly recommend the movie without reservations.  I enjoyed the slower nature of the movie, and am glad it wasn’t like Taken (which is the way it’s marketed).  Without much surprise or a satisfying ending, audiences may leave disappointed, but hey, without Neeson it could have been worse.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is written and directed by Scott Frank and is based on the novel by Lawrence Block of the same name.  The film stars Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Boyd Holbrook, and Sebastian Roché and is in theaters nationwide September 19.



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.