A Walk Among the Tombstones

"Very Good"

A Walk Among the Tombstones Review


Although the plot isn't particularly original, a darkly internalised tone makes this low-key thriller oddly compelling. It may be the usual serial killer nastiness, but it also pays attention to earthier themes like morality and the futility of revenge. Meanwhile, Liam Neeson is able to combine his more recent action-hero persona with his serious acting chops this time. And writer-director Scott Frank infuses the film with moody grit, quietly subverting each cliche of the genre.

The action picks up eight years after Matt (Neeson) stopped drinking and quit the police force, following a shootout that went horribly wrong. It's now 1999, and New York is in the grip of Y2K paranoia. Matt is working as an unlicensed private detective who uses word-of-mouth to find clients. So Matt is intrigued when one of his 12-step friends (Boyd Holbrook) introduces his brother Kenny (Dan Stevens), a wealthy drug trafficker whose wife was kidnapped and then murdered even though he paid the ransom. As Matt digs into the case, he realises that the two killers (David Harbour and Adam David Thompson) have a left a string of similar victims in their wake, and that the murders are connected. Meanwhile, Matt takes in homeless teen TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley), an observant kid who helps him work piece together the clues. And together they try to figure out where the killers will strike next.

This story unfolds with a remarkably gloomy tone, combining horrific violence with introspective drama. This mixture can feel rather jarring, especially as it wallows in the nastier side of human existence. Every character is tortured in more ways than one, with lost loves, physical afflictions and internal demons. Even the smaller side roles are packed with detail, including Olafur Darri Olafsson's creepy cemetery worker and Sebastian Roche's frazzled Russian mobster. All of this adds texture to the film, a welcome distraction from the grisly central plot, which is never played as a mystery, but rather as an inevitability.

All of this lets the cast members find shadings in unexpected places. Neeson is haunted and riveting, while Stevens stands out in a razor-sharp image-busting performance. Each bit of interaction bristles with lively chemistry, both light and dark. This helps make up for the way the villains never seem motivated by anything other than their innate sadism, or the way the female victims barely register on-screen. And while the alcoholism theme is pushed far too heavy-handedly, it's the film's grim fatalism that holds the interest. These people may barely be living, but they're fascinating to watch.



A Walk Among the Tombstones

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th September 2014

Box Office USA: $26.0M

Distributed by: Universal Studios

Production compaines: Traveling Picture Show Company (TPSC), Jersey Films, Free State Pictures, Exclusive Media Group, Cross Creek Pictures, 1984 Private Defense Contractors, Da Vinci Media Ventures, Double Feature Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%
Fresh: 84 Rotten: 43

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Tobin Armbrust, Brian Oliver

Starring: as Matt Scudder, as Kenny Kristo, as Ray, as Hostess, as Yuri Landau, as Reuben, as AA Woman - Denise, as Ortiz, as Loogan, Marielle Heller as Marie Gotteskind, Toshiko Onizawa as Witness, as Anita, Astro as TJ, Frank De Julio as Eduardo Solomon, Laura Birn as Leila Alvarez

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