A Walk Among the Tombstones review
February 01, 2015

Ever since I watched and enjoyed "Taken," I've had an addiction of sorts to Liam Neeson movies. I haven't watched them all, but any time I see his name on the poster or DVD cover or whatever, I am that little bit more likely to pay to see the film in question.

"A Walk Among the Tombstones" found its way into my collection because it had other things working in its favor, as well. It is based on a 1992 novel by mystery writer Lawrence Block, who wrote a series of books I've never read, and I've been on a mystery kick lately. It also had a plot that sounded a bit like "Taken," meaning there was the promise of Liam Neeson running around and kicking butt with his set of skills.

In this case, Neeson plays an ex-cop named Matt Scudder. Several years back, while off-duty, he watched a robbery go down and then shot the perpetrators as they fled the scene. The proper story begins a few years later, with Scudder now working in the private sector. An acquaintance from an AA meeting introduces the grizzly investigator to a shady sort of character who is down one wife after strangers abducted and killed her after collecting a handsome ransom.

At first, Scudder isn't inclined to accept the case, but he finally relents… or else there wouldn't be much of a story, would there? He soon finds that the murder in question is the latest in a string of such things, and then he finds a connection between them that the film never really explored to my satisfaction.

Scudder is a methodical sort of investigator, taking about the steps that you would expect in any novel within the genre. That means the pacing is sometimes a bit on the slow side, and there's not as much butt kicking as I anticipated. However, the city of New York has plenty of beautiful scenery, even when it's not exactly conventional, and I enjoyed the virtual tour of that area in the late 90s. It felt like a trip back to my youth, when payphones were more common and people visited libraries for reasons besides the computers.

Though Scudder prefers working alone, he also strikes up a friendship with a youth who is living on the streets. Their interactions are fun to watch, and they give Liam Neeson the opportunity to do more than say things gruffly and stalk across streets or down foreboding corridors.

When I watched the blu-ray's extras, I found that the screenwriter added some scenes that I would just as soon have done without. Apparently, the original novel was deemed light on the "exploring what the bad guys are doing" side, so the viewer is treated to a few scenes that explore the thugs and their motivations. The problem is that their motivations don't seem to be much more than "We're awful creeps who hate the world," so it felt like a bit of a waste.

As well, I should mention that "A Walk Among the Tombstones" is every bit as dark a movie as its title sort of implies. There's not a lot of profanity. Violence is kept to a reasonable minimum. However, the few scenes that show the victims suffering are a bit difficult to take, and the tone overall is grim and tense.

By the time I got to the end of the film, I realized that I had mostly enjoyed my time with the movie, but I probably would have enjoyed reading the book even more. Perhaps someday, I'll know for sure; I ordered the first book in the series, which was written several years before I was even born, and I'll work my way forward from there if I like the written version as much as I think I will.

As a movie, then, "A Walk Among the Tombstones" left me feeling rather lukewarm in spite of Liam Neeson's usual fine efforts. As an advertisement for a series of mystery novels, it fared considerably better.

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Germ Germ - February 01, 2015 (05:19 AM)
I just watched a "bad dude comes out of retirement" movie myself, The Equalizer. I watched it because I like Denzel, but it was very by the numbers. Still fun if you like that sort of thing. Also from the director of Training Day, but nowhere near as good.
honestgamer honestgamer - February 01, 2015 (05:48 AM)
I looked at that movie, and it seemed like it was possibly worth a look. I'm not as into Denzel's movies as some people seem to be, but I sometimes enjoy his work. Training Day was actually playing when I worked at a theater way back when, and it seemed like an interesting enough movie from the scenes I saw during theater checks. I just didn't want to show up at work to watch it in full, necessarily, and then I haven't gotten around to it after that.
Genj Genj - February 01, 2015 (08:58 PM)
Pretty much every Liam Neeson role these days look like he's playing Bryan Mills from Taken. I used to blind buy a lot of blu rays, but I can barely watch what I have and am trying to be more selective (especially after getting burned on Lucy - one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time). This one I'll likely be waiting for it to drop to $9.99.
honestgamer honestgamer - February 02, 2015 (01:04 AM)
I bought Lucy on blu-ray, also, but haven't watched that. Same with Gone Girl and a number of other movies. If people here enjoy me talking about movies I watch sometimes, I might review them down the road. I also have Taken 2 on blu-ray, by the way, but I haven't watched that yet. I need to, so I'll be prepped when the third one hits home video...
Genj Genj - February 02, 2015 (02:00 AM)
Maybe you'll like it more than me (it actually has favorable ratings on imdb & metacritic) but Lucy legitimately angered me and I've been considering whether it's worth trying to sell it off. I thought about doing a short review on the blogs last week but opted not to. I just bought Gone Girl today (Best Buy had it on sale for $15) and will likely watch it next weekend. You'll like Taken 2 if you enjoy seeing Liam Neeson being a badass. It's a dumb movie but fun.

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