A Walk among the Tombstones (2014)

walkamongthetombstones_2014_poster
A Walk among the Tombstones (2014)
  • Time: 113 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | Mystery
  • Director: Scott Frank
  • Cast: Liam Neeson, Ruth Wilson, Dan Stevens

Storyline:

Matt Scudder is a former cop now a private eye. He is asked by a drug dealer to find the men who kidnapped his wife. It seems like they killed her even after he paid them. Scudder refuses. But the man later goes to see him and tells him how his wife was killed. Scudder takes the job. He does some research and thinks the men he is looking for have done this more than once. And that everyone they grabbed is connected to a drug dealer. He was about to give up when they grab another girl and Scudder tries make sure she’s returned alive.

8 reviews

  • “A Walk among the Tombstones” is either a welcome step away from Liam Neesons action hero stasis, or a disappointing misstep into quieter movies. If you think its possibly the later then you should probably stop reading. Because i personally think the movie is a nice change. “Taken” was a one-off. All the “Non-stops” and “Unknowns” we’ve had since have demeaned what a great actor Liam Neeson is, and this moody drama does a half decent job of reestablishing him.

    He does play a Private investigator though. Which probably doesn’t sound like to much of a change. But the movies mysterious set-up, and creepy story had me invested. More than it would if Neeson was just out to kick some bad guys butts again.

    Though it will almost definitely disappoint those wanting more “Taken” style fighting/car chases, as a Slower paced thriller it has an intriguing, thoughtful plot, and plenty of dark atmosphere, instead of forced, fast action. Its great.

  • A Walk Among the Tombstones, based on the novel of the same name is about Matthew Scudder, an eight-year sober private investigator, who is hired by a drug trafficker to find the people responsible for the kidnapping and murder of his wife.

    It’s a fascinating story that’s hard hitting and different to what you would be use to in a crime drama. It’s not so much about the who did it, it’s more about the why and the attempt to take them down. Most stories don’t reveal who the kidnappers are and instead give you a list of people to suspect through plot twists and turns. A Walk Among the Tombstones is more about the mentality of these men and their background, with Matthew, played by Liam Neeson (A Million Ways to Die in the West) trying to track them down.

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  • (Rating: 3 / 5) Undoubtedly, Liam Nesson should be grateful to Luc Besson, who turned it into a profitable unthinkable action figure. As he is already aged and now his life in countdown, for Nesson all this whirlwind of kick-ass and shooting is the last bastion of popularity can aspire. Undeniably, fit, and from a strange but effective way. After all, Nesson is a very bitter man, when action heroes are stoic but always friendly. Nor has muscles and instead notice that his physical is not so privileged, so there is not much relentless in his figure. Perhaps as one said, the fate of this actor is that his low profile makes it suitable for the streets, it transmits the urban edge; the only flexible element with which Liam was able to establish the crossover to the genre, even if the first few minutes are ridiculous here where we see him with a beard and long hair (to show that he was “young”)

    But the bulk of “A Walk Among The Tombstones” does not feel as contemporary for the protagonist, is not preparing him for “Taken 3” but a strange make-up which he played before “Taken” or slightly after Besson hit. It is not the first time that the action genre goes into a serious vein featured Nesson, if indeed “A Walk…” would be called “action” cause is much more a lean police story. “Non-Stop” also shares the atmospheric spirit of the next film, but poised to continue to be considered routine. The big problem here is the director Scott Frank, which gives it a heavy lugubrious style to a plot with wicked connotations, with mysterious music and walks or visual landscapes. It certainly resembles the blunder of “Sabotage” and not so much the fairly good “Closed Circuit”: the whole blanket of supernatural mixed with wild and psychopathic torture is somewhat bizarre. It is an inappropriate context, which requires urgency and suspense but the feeling about “A Walk…” is a mysterious film (not be confused with noir). One think that Brian De Palma would directed this with better impulse, is an appropriate and talent man for mixing between perversion and suspense, would have been better movie than “Passion”. The whole eerie quality is more like “Philomena” than a substantive film for Nesson. But the somber side, cold is not the only bad thing: although entertaining, the script is very sketchy. One would not care if the movie does not break a mold or not revolutionize cinema, but the research is overloaded with switches. Liam Nesson gets clues by accident thanks to the people whom he meets byyyyyy chance, he is linear going from one point to the next, becomes friends with a boy byyy chance, whenever he is on the street wanders a clue, whenever enters a building is to meet the next clue (which can be a person who appears unexpectedly delivering information or a locked door that hides pictures and a note… As if such evidence were waiting Nesson to discover!). Other errors are to demonstrate the “wisdom” over the protagonist, for example he speaks two words with a subject in a normal department and warns that subject is a drug dealer; How do this people to legally live as if a common man like Nesson discovers in seconds they are drug dealers?? And so is the research, which becomes anemic by this bureaucratic scheme mixed with the icy directorial style. It is far from bad and even is passable, but very chilly to be considered memorable. Not insular like “White Bird In A Blizzard”, but not quite contemporary

  • Since 2009’s Taken, the words “Liam Neeson dark-revenge-action-thriller” have become both ubiquitous and a running joke among audiences. But the sixty-odd year old Irishman’s latest, A Walk Among the Tombstones, takes this recent bankable action-star power of Neeson and breaks convention through adherence to an old formula, which actually results in both a good performance from Neeson, and a solid film. Based off of the tenth in what is so far seventeen novels by Lawrence Block about an alcoholic cop-turned-private-investigator, Matthew Scudder, and being both written and directed by Scott Park (writer of Minority Report, The Wolverine and Marley and Me), the film opens with a stylised armed robbery being foiled by a badass, grizzled, hairy Neeson in early 90’s New York. The plot then jumps eight years forward with a clean shaven Scudder being summoned to a drug traffickers home to solve the mystery of the man’s kidnapped wife Soon, Scudder is on the trail of the sick and twisted kidnapping murderers, and employing a young, savvy teenager as his associate, played by Brian “Astro” Bradley a finalist on the American X–Factor talent show. What follows is a simple, dark and formulaic investigation, though from behind the other side of the law.

    Read the full review at http://www.thatothermovieblog.blogspot.com.au

  • The chances are you want to watch this movie because of Liam Neeson, who’s popularity skyrocketed the last 4-5 years because of such movies as Taken and Taken 2.

    Well, Neeson is the only reason that this movie doesn’t suck entirely.

    In this movie he is a traumatized ex-cop who hunts down a couple of psychopath killers. The pace of the movie is pretty slow. Don’t expect Taken-like scenes in this one. No big surprises script-wise either. Pretty much standard stuff.

    The music could be more suitable for a haunted house horror film, and although there are some scenes in a cemetery the title is misleading.

    The narrative is somehow difficult to grasp. There aren’t constant flashbacks as in other movies but for the first half of the movie many viewers are confused about the timeline of some events.

    Also the movie is rather long. This simple premise could have been resolved in far less time than its 1h:54m running time.

    Check it out only if you are a hardcore Liam Neeson fan.

  • Liam Neeson is probably the only actor who could have made this movie as memorable as it is. His strong presence makes it move along as if he was born to do this. And maybe he was. He delivers as a brooding, hulking ex-cop on a mission. It’s always a treat to see Liam command every scene. There’s something about his walk – as the director took great aim in capturing. Walking and brooding against fences, walls, and buildings. A determined walk.

    This movie is a clever and engaging thriller/mystery with a mesmerizing star. The story, in a one word summary, is dark. The movie brings tension to the audience throughout the entire film in the hunting of the two disturbed beings. For once, the mystery has a bit of realism to it, forgoing the convenient pieces of information, for a process that involves actually working for clues. As the movie progresses, the ambiguous nature and seemingly simple motive starts to reveal itself.

    As for the suspense of the movie, as mentioned I before it is the psychotic mindset of the killers that keeps you in suspense. The only problem with this though is that, with the exception of the last part of the movie, the damage has already been done. Unfortunately for the cast, many of the crimes have already been committed, which dulls the intensity of their acts and makes the film a little boring at first. On the opposite side of spectrum, is that some of the actions are a little too well done, especially at times of torture.

    Overall, A Walk Among the Tombstones is a nice crime/drama to bide your time with!

  • In Liam Neeson’s latest endeavor A Walk Among the Tombstones, he does in fact do a lot of walking. He walks along sidewalks, past street corners, through graveyards (I’m thinking that’s how the film got its title), and up on rooftops. He still gives you a daily dose of badassery, Neeson style. But this time it’s not about the action, it’s more about the emoting or fleshing out of his character. Don’t worry, it’s still his type of movie. He has a special set of skills, we know this. And you still get the obligatory phone call in which he tells off the villains kidnapping his friend, or his daughter, or his acquaintance, or whatever. Oh and by the way, he will find you, he will kill you, and so on and so on. Yeah, it’s time to get Neesoned again and now, it’s planned out in a sort of conventional, routine way.

    Directed by the guy that wrote 1998’s critically acclaimed Out of Sight and featuring a couple of psychopaths cutting off a woman’s breast and amputating two fingers from a 14 year old (to get a certain amount of ransom money, oy vey), A Walk Among the Tombstones is a warped character study involving a retired cop in Matthew Scudder (Neeson). The film takes place circa 1991 and then fast forwards to fall of 1999, the Y2K era. Scudder is a private investigator who no longer works for any law enforcement. He’s out on his own, doing quote unquote “favors” for people who need their loved ones found and their enemies brought to justice. Scudder’s assignment: to find the killers of a drug dealer’s wife (newcomer Dan Stevens plays the half-rich trafficker) who demanded $400,000 all the while eventually killing said wife.

    Despite harnessing a hard R rating, “Tombstone” has a sick and twisted side without being as grotesque as most critics have led you to believe. Most of the torture scenes are masked. You think about them but you’re spared the sight of the debauchery. That’s a good thing because director Scott Frank is more geared toward being a mild film noir storyteller than anything else. His screenplay is deft and intelligent and although he exhibits some noir tendencies, he avoids filming anything in black and white (that makes sense because “Tombstone” wouldn’t work as a 1940’s/50’s relic).

    Now if you haven’t seen A Walk Among the Tombstones yet, know that you’re going to be taken back by its mild nostalgia. The opening credits have an old school feel about them, like a font from the 1970’s or 80’s. Then there’s the film score that although written by Carlos Rafael Rivera, feels like something the late Michael Small would have thought up when he wrote the music to The Parallax View and Marathon Man. You also get to see its star the way you see other actors become human while taking a beating like a normal, vulnerable person. Remember when Clint Eastwood took a break from being Dirty Harry to be a mountaineer in The Eiger Sanction? Or when Harrison Ford donned his butt-kicking persona in Raiders of the Lost Ark to getting pushed around in Blade Runner? If you’re a fan of Neeson’s indestructible menace in Taken, you might view “Tombstone” and think “bummer”. I say phooey! This is Liam emoting more so than breaking some paper villain’s neck. It’s him doing the Philip Marlowe thing, the Law and Order thing, the you know, detective thing. It’s refreshing and it rises above the stale, sort of cliched material (another anti-hero, ex-cop who used to drink and has past demons) that “Tombstone” abbreviates for a majority of its running time.

    Of note: I dug the spot-on, clean cut direction of “Tombstone” by Floridian Frank. And as much as I worship my favorite Irish actor, I couldn’t get over the missteps in his stance as a independent, non-affiliated private investigator. Within the film’s conclusion (spoiler alerts), he kills a bunch of bad guys, leaves a bloody mess, and doesn’t get questioned by real cops with badges. He eludes them, gets on a subway, and goes to his apartment as if nothing ever happened. Whatever. And what’s with him using a twelve-step program as a mindset to infiltrate the maimed killers? The familiar or better yet similar concept worked in Frank’s The Lookout (you know, the phrase, “whoever has the money, has the power!”). Here, it just feels out of place and juvenile by comparison.

    All in all, despite silent flashbacks that somewhat deflate any dramatic tension, a couple of irrelevant side plots involving alcoholism, and the slight befriending of a homeless kid by the protagonist, I’m gonna recommend this thing strictly because of the ripe, 62 year-old Neeson. As long as he stays away from comedy, I feel that his performances in action/crime dramas are as reliable as daylight savings time and as comfortable as a pair of worn out loafers. If you wanna see another Taken, you won’t get that here. You’ll have to wait for the third one which is coming out in January of 2015. In regards to his current release, A Walk Among the Tombstones, it’s not going to blow you away or change your view of sadistic, gloom and doom crime thrillers. It is however, a form of normalcy when it comes to your everyday genre conventions. What we have here is for the most part, a solid “walk” to remember.

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  • “You want your money or you wanna be looking behind you for the rest of your worthless life? Do this deal and I’ll sit on what I know about you. You can take your little Bert and Ernie act to the other side of the country. There’s plenty of dope dealers in LA.”

    Strange but true. I haven’t seen any of the “Taken” movies where Liam Neeson first must rescue his daughter Kim out of the hands of Albanian kidnappers, then he and his ex-wife are kidnapped by the same Albanian gang and finally he must track down the person who murdered his ex-wife. Each film was about family related crimes. Now in “A Walk Among the Tombstones” the wife and the daughter of a drug dealer are abducted and Neeson uses the experience he gained at the New York police. It’s not that I avoid detective stories routinely, although I got the feeling that the “Taken”-series was just another “detective-runs-after-offender” film. Also it’s not that I don’t like Neeson. He’s certainly not an actor who plays memorable roles, but the fact is that he embodies roles like this in a proper manner. Just as in “Non-Stop”, he takes the identity of a former alcoholic who turned his back to his career as a police officer and exchanged it for a more low-profile profession. Again, he got stuck with an immense guilt because of a blunder he made due to his alcohol problem.

    That’s also the introduction of “A Walk Among the Tombstones”: the situation in which Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) finds himself and making that famous mistake. The mistake itself isn’t immediately revealed but will be later on in the film. Let’s say it’s in such a way significant, that Scudder throws his police badge in the garbage can, immediately decides to sober up and tamely attends AA meetings on a regular base. And finally he continues as a private detective without a license. One day he’s being accosted by a member of the AA, asking him to help his brother (a drug dealer) in a case where the police shouldn’t be involved in. Turns out his wife was kidnapped and that he already paid the asked ransom. Instead of closing his wife back in his arms, she’s neatly delivered as a bunch of packets lying in the trunk of a car. A butcher would be jealous of such craftsmanship. The moment another drug dealer’s daughter is kidnapped, Scudder takes the responsibility to track the sadistic and insane killers.

    It’s not very original but still entertaining enough. There was even a slight form of tension in this dark thriller. Unfortunately again, the character Scudder is a stereotypical person. A traumatized loner who seems to be indifferent because of his personal suffering in the past and the resulting blunder. A cynical person with a “Je mon fou” attitude. Eventually it doesn’t bother him how he returns from a confrontation, although he still came to a soberly conclusion at some point: “I’m getting too old for this”. His alcohol problem is a crucial element in Scudder’s life, and is plainly demonstrated by interweaving flashbacks and the twelve steps of AA in it (although the time that this happened was a poor choice). The announcement of him being 8 years sober at an AA meeting, was followed by a rather cool reaction. I still think those members could muster some enthusiasm. This wasn’t exactly encouraging.

    The 62-year-old Neeson plays the role as the repented ex-cop, purely with one’s eyes shut. The color palette used in this movie, gave it a 70s feeling and eventually made an old-fashioned police thriller out of it. And Neeson fits in this set-up perfectly as a matured detective. But the most imaginative characters were the two creepy, sadistic serial killers played by David Harbour (as Ray) and Adam David Thompson (as Albert). Indeed, they are a kind of “Bert and Ernie”. Only they don’t do such innocent things like cramming a banana in someone’s ear. They are two insensible and self-assured characters, who won’t hesitate to torture an innocent teenage girl.

    “A Walk Among the Tombstones” certainly wasn’t a bad film, but ultimately left me indifferent. The final denouement wasn’t exactly surprising and at the end of the movie I only had a “That’s it ?” feeling. It was also a bit silly to involve the street boy TJ in it. Eventually, his contribution to the entire story wasn’t of great importance and probably was only used so Scudder could show his protective fatherly feelings. There was however one particular part that disappointed me the most and that’s the basement of the two buddies Ray and Albert. Even the basement of my father looks more eerie than this dark cave of those two sadistic creeps. They made sure that even the most sensitive soul could watch this film. How Albert managed to free himself, was actually a mystery to me. For me this part could have been explicitly portrayed. However, the final was straightforward and cold-blooded. Sadly enough this was the only moment where I briefly raised my eyebrows. Shocker.

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