Look, I’m just going to come out and say it: while I appreciate Liam Neeson as an actor, everything he’s done this decade has been the same. Granted there are nitty gritty details that differ slightly from the next but overall Neeson is seemingly attracted to playing one type of character: an ex ‘something’ who no longer works in that area for ‘insert reason here’ who now does jobs for people of a ‘less than stellar standing’ in society. Such is the case in A Walk Among the Tombstones, which is basically Taken meets The Grey meets any other movie Neeson has done that involves him being a one man demolition team.
Set in the late nineties, Neeson stars as Matt Scudder, a former detective and recovering alcoholic who becomes entangled with a duo of serial killers after Kenny’s (Dan Stevens) wife is kidnapped and murdered. Kenny also happens to be a drug trafficker, which seems to be our killers’ (David Harbour & Adam David Thompson) particular tickle of fancy. Thus Scudder begins a vigorous search for clues that could lead him to the evil psychopaths, with a little help from homeless teen and wannabe detective TJ (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley). What culminates is a lot of slow burning tension that inevitably leads to a ‘final battle’ scenario, only one man will come out alive, and Scudder will use all his knowledge and prowess to be the one that is victorious.
Not much can be said of Neeson’s acting chops, as he is at his reliable best as the lonely anti-hero Scudder. What can be said is his likeness for all things wounded warrior. It would be nice to see Neeson venture out once in a while and showcase his skills as an actor that we know he possesses. Dan Stevens is an odd casting choice for a drug dealer/revengeful husband considering he is most notably recognized from hit T.V. series Downton Abbey, but he plays Kenny with just the right amount of violence and confidence. But the shining beacon in this dim crime thriller is YouTube sensation Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley, who is a perfect contrast to Neeson’s tough as nails detective. His youth and quick wit were a welcome presence in any scene he was in, and he is definitely a kid to watch for in the future.
The plot of the film won’t come as a shock to anyone, and most of you will realise the ending way before it happens. The surprising thing was the reveal of the killers halfway through the movie, which evaporated any small tension the movie had left. Added to this is the lack of backstory for the murderers, there was no real reason or trigger about WHY they were doing this to these particular victims other than files they happened upon when they killed a female DEA officer. And I’m sorry, but these guys were the personification of crazy: meticulous, skilled, conscious killers and we don’t even get an iota of an insight as to the reason behind it all? This was a complete missed opportunity, and I think a backstory would have made the movie a little more intriguing and offered a different perspective then your everyday cop drama.
There was nothing good or bad about A Walk Among the Tombstones, it’s the stereotypical crime thriller we’ve come to expect from veteran Neeson. The film does nothing to stand out from the crowd, and although there are some light hearted scenes that were a great tension reliever, overall this is a stock standard caper that lacks in any real gumption.
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