Film Review – A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

A Walk Among The Tombstones

Title – A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

Director – Scott Frank (The Lookout)

Cast – Liam Neeson, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Dan Stevens, Boyd Holbrook, David Harbour

Plot – P.I and ex-cop Matt Scudder (Neeson) finds himself doing a job for drug trafficker Kenny Kristo (Stevens) after Kenny’s wife was kidnapped and murdered by a mysterious gang. Matt’s investigation into what happened to Kenny’s wife will take him to the far reaching depths of mankind’s depravity and offers a hope for Matt to atone for past transgressions.

 “I do favours for people and in return, they give me gifts. So what can I do for you”?

Review by Eddie on 24/02/2015

I for one am glad to say with much relief that A Walk Among the Tombstones, Scott Frank’s dark and almost humour free noire like detective tale is one of Liam Neeson’s more tolerable recent films that have stunk up multiplexes with the shoddy fair of Non-Stop, Unknown and the inexcusable Taken franchise. These films made you question just what had become of Rob Roy and his seemingly insatiable appetite to be a part of any thriller/action adventure that waved a check in his face so it’s nice to feel like Neeson is trying here in something that feels original if not overly memorable.

Based on one of Lawrence Block’s extensive crime novels focused on ex-detective turned investigator for hire Matt Scudder, Tombstones is an incredibly dark and foreboding tale that is similar to tone to bleak films like Fincher’s Seven and Zodiac and there is enough dark material here to suggest that some viewers may be alienated by some confronting suggestions that are quite dark for a high profile thriller such as this and where a Gone Girl might break up the material with some extremely dark comedic musings, Tombstones starts solemn and ends there without a second of respite. This bleakness works for Tombstones however as it creates a uniquely set darkness that is only highlighted by the fact that Scudder has no qualms about working for drug traffickers or such like criminals and therefore isn’t the typical anti-hero working for the good natured citizen nature of many such similar tales.

This narrative heart that drives Tombstone’s is also is major weakness however, as when the story unfolds we start to realise that much of this gritty rawness that lays at the crux of Matt’s journey starts to unravel into something that feels to far from reality, situations begin to become more and more questionable. Whether it’s Matt’s dealings with street kid TJ (played well by child actor “Astro”), encounters with Olafur Darri Olafsson’s creepy graveyard groundskeeper Jonas or a misguided shootout, Tombstones seems to be tripping over itself every chance it gets when there was perhaps room to build a more downtrodden and less farfetched story that seemed tailor built for a place in the real world.

It’s easy to forget just what a presence Liam Neeson can be on screen, before this venture the last time he was truly memorable was in the fantastic The Grey all the way back in 2011, so A Walk Among the Tombstones is a refreshing reminder of his talents in what is an intriguing and finely crafted thriller that has moments of brilliance and sadly utter infuriation. Tombstone’s is a mid-tier movie no doubt, but for fans of bleak detective tales that aren’t afraid too offer little hope and for fans of evil incarnate villains, there is much to enjoy in this little slice of darkness.

3 pigeon coops out of 5

30 responses to “Film Review – A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

  1. I think he started taking pretty much everything that was offered to him after his wife died. And that makes me sad for him. I hope at some point he can find some peace somewhere besides working constantly and then maybe he will be more picky about the roles he chooses.

  2. All this hate for Liam makes me sad. Seems a bit arbitrary. Even if he sometimes chooses “bad” films, he’s almost always the best part.

  3. I had hoped this film would be better. Lawrence Block is one of my favorite crime/detective story authors (my favorite is his novel HIT MAN). And I was hoping that Liam Neeson would redeem himself more than it seems he did. However, it still sounds like it’s worth a watch. Thanks for the review, Eddie!

  4. I think I gave this the same score back when it was screening. I agree with your sentiments – he essentially is the same character in most films he ends up in (and that Taken franchise is simply awful) but in this film, its tolerable. I didn’t mind it, it had a half decent script and cast, plus the personality of Neeson’s character was -just- enough to make him a character to give a shit about. just barely though.

    Definetely worth the watch, much better than standard Neeson fare no doubt

    • Yeh man it was one that you are glad you watched even though you can’t remember it the day after ha. Was a lot darker than I was ever expecting to be honest.

      • haha very apt description mate!! I can’t see myself watching this again soon, tho maybe sometime down the track. The dark atmosphere was what drew me into seeing it at the cinemas in the first place. As you say, I’m glad I did.

  5. I definitely liked this when I saw it in theaters. Nothing particularly new or groundbreaking, especially in the crime/detective genre, but it was an enjoyable and well-done movie.

    I have to disagree with you on the subject of TJ, though. I feel like most movies dealing with a tag-along kid would’ve used him much differently and played him as more of an annoyance who was in the way, whereas the Scudder character sort of takes him in. And I think that actually showed great characterization of Scudder and the kind of things he cares about, even if he is working with some shady characters.

  6. Hey, Jordan and Eddie,

    I agree, the last Neeson movie that was great was “The Grey.” Did you happen to watch the end credits all the way through? It shows a glimpse of how the fight between the Alpha wolf and Neeson ended.

    I am a fan of very dark, humorless movies that are hard to watch by the average audience, so I’ll be checking out “A Walk Among The Tombstones” at some point this year.

    — M

    • Glad to hear some more love for The Grey, I actually prefer the ending without the credit sequence but it was still interesting to see. Also of note is how the new Neeson movie performed badly this last weekend, I think his shtick is wearing thin.

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