Film Review – A Walk Among The Tombstones

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Liam Neeson is back doing what he does best – brooding, and killing people. And when I say he’s back, it’s not like he ever really went away.

Like a pale Denzel Washington, Neeson has become the go-to troubled good guy who we let get away with murder. Because in the case of his characters it’s normally dished out as revenge or justice.

Somehow Liam Neeson has become the embodiment of his Lego Movie character – Good Cop/Bad Cop.

In Walk Among The Tombstones, Neeson plays retired Detective turned private eye Matt Scudder. It’s a crime fiction character created by Lawrence Block, and the film has been steered by novice director, but experienced screenwriter Scott Frank.

Set in Brooklyn, New York in the early 1990’s where the weather is always grey and drizzling, Neeson’s low-key private eye Scudder is sought out to help solve the case of a drug dealer’s kidnapped wife who is murdered even after a ransom is paid.

Scudder’s reluctant sleuthing uncovers several other similar crimes, and the story becomes a cat and mouse game tracking down a pair of serial killers.

Somehow Neeson manages to anchor the more fanciful aspects of the film, such as the appearance of his apprentice detective – a young black kid with sickle cell anemia., who shadows his every move and predictably becomes embroiled in the plot.

An element like this shouldn’t work, and despite much of their interaction getting laughs in the screening I saw, it felt like they were actually played for laughs, that we were allowed to accept that it was a pretty unlikely scenario, but we could go along with it.

I’m a Denzel fan, but couldn’t stand The Equalizer due to it’s abundance of pointless violence.

This film has even more sickening atrocities, but it feels like there is a lot more at stake. And perhaps because I love most things Neeson does due to his incredible presence, I’m willing to accept the uncomfortable events unfolding on screen.

Reminiscent of the terrific David Fincher film Zodiac, this is a great film for a slow, wet weekend afternoon.

3 & 1/2 stars.

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