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A Walk Among The Tombstones (Liam Neeson) - DVD Review

A Walk Among The Tombstones

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AT first glance, A Walk Among The Tombstones may appear to share a lot in common with most other Liam Neeson action movies of late, particularly as there’s a scene with him on the phone speaking to a hostage taker and warning against a certain course of action.

But Scott Frank’s thriller is deceptive. Yes, it boasts some solid action but the emphasis here is on character and talking. It possesses more of a ’70s sensibility. And it entertains for long periods by virtue of the mysteries located within.

Neeson plays former cop turned unlicensed private investigator Matthew Scudder who is called upon by a drug trafficker (Dan Stevens) to hunt down the pair of kidnappers responsible for taking and killing his wife (despite the fact he paid the ransom).

His ensuing hunt places him on the trail of a particularly sadistic duo who deliberately target known criminals so that they won’t go to the police. But it also offers an unlikely chance for Scudder to exorcise past demons.

Set in the run-up to Y2K, Frank’s film is at its most gripping early on as it establishes Scudder’s persona and world, thereby allowing Neeson plenty of room to dust off some weightier acting muscles (which he clearly relishes). His PI is an enigmatic presence – a man who would sooner talk his way out of situations than go to guns or rely on special skills. It also makes him more fallible and lends the film extra edge.

There’s good support, too, from the likes of Stevens and Brian Bradley (as a smart-mouthed young sidekick), even if this is predominantly Neeson’s show.

But then director Frank has form for turning in good thrillers having previously directed the little-seen but excellent Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller The Lookout and penned Out of Sight and Minority Report and here makes a solid job of adapting Lawrence Block’s source novel.

But there are inevitably some flaws. Some of the violence, though kept largely off-screen, sits uncomfortably alongside some of the more glib elements and occasionally teeters on the brink of feeling voyeuristic.

While the third act feels way too contrived and nowhere near as taut or as intelligent as what has come before. Hence, the ending is somewhat underwhelming for several of the leading characters.

But if you’re prepared to cut it some slack then A Walk Among The Tombstones is a solid thriller that provides Neeson with one of his most fascinating and engaging roles in a while (not forgetting The Grey, of course).

Certificate: 15
Running time: 110mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: January 19, 2015