This is a remarkably satisfying film. While the specific plot of the film more than holds one’s attention, the real story is Matt Scudder’s tentative steps towards rebuilding a life. Sharp direction, a nuanced performance by Neeson, and a screenplay that, in some aspects, improves on the book. Hopefully there will others from the series.
The movie was good, the acting was amazing and the story was very well thought out. As for everybody bashing it maybe detective movies make your brain hurt? Find out what your going to watch before watching it. They’re probably so used to having a story being told to them with explosions every minute that they can’t appreciate a movie that makes you think.
A Bold, Stylish Thrill Ride
Nowadays crime thrillers can be judged by how many A-list actors or CGI action they contain. Fortunately, this film is one of the few that delivers not only that high-quality action, but also an intriguing story that fits it like a glove. While it may go unobserved by most critics and theatergoers, “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” written and directed by Scott Frank and based on the bestselling novel by Lawrence Block, is a gem amongst its genre and certainly one of the best adult films of the year.
Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is an ex-cop who is tortured by the events surrounding his resignation from the force and attends AA meetings to ease his guilt. He also continues to use his police skills as an unlicensed private investigator, and agrees to an interview with Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) when Kenny’s brother Peter (Boyd Holbrook) asks Scudder for help. Kenny tells Scudder that two men abducted and murdered his wife despite his large ransom payment, and he asks Scudder to bring his wife’s killers to justice. Scudder agrees to help, and enlists the help of a sarcastic youth named TJ (Brian Bradley) to find out more about the men he is looking for. Through TJ’s research Scudder discovers that Kenny’s wife is not the first woman the men have abducted and learns they are particularly horrifying serial killers through a mysterious cemetery groundsman named Jonas (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson). In a race against time, Scudder, Kenny, and Peter attempt to track down the two murderers before they can kill their next victim.
The richness of “A Walk Among the Tombstones” lies almost completely within Frank’s script. It is pulsing with action throughout, yet has the one quality few thrillers obtain: a fascinating plot even without those intense few scenes. While Scudder’s relentless search for the serial killers is the focal point of the story, Frank’s screenplay touches on various subplots, including the origins and relationships of the characters, without ever becoming distracting or taking away from the action. That said, while the film didn’t necessarily break away from typical thriller clichés, it was highly entertaining to watch from beginning to end.
The cast of “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is as wonderful as the plot, and no one more so than Liam Neeson as Matthew Scudder. Neeson takes the gruff, closed-off ex-cop to breathtaking reality, and in the process gives one of his best performances in years. Also remarkable is Dan Stevens, who portrays the angry, broken Kenny Kristo with skill and finesse, especially considering this is his first thriller (and hopefully not his last). David Harbour is simply terrifying in his role as psychopathic killer Ray, as is Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as the guilt-ridden Jonas. Rounding out the cast is Boyd Holbrook, giving a superb performance as Kenny’s less fortunate brother Peter, and Brian Bradley, who gives the film much needed comedy relief as the wisecracking adolescent TJ.
“A Walk Among the Tombstones” is a solid film from start to finish, a throwback to traditional crime films despite its slick, contemporary atmosphere. Whether you’re an old-school crime fan or an action-seeker, this movie is certainly worth a rental, if not a purchase.