Movie Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones


Stars: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Brian “Astro” Bradley, Adam David Thompson

Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity, Running time 113 minutes, Action/Crime/Thriller

Compare to: Death Wish (1974), Ransom (1996)

Liam Neeson being in a movie these days usually means two things: Someone or some people will be kidnapped or taken hostage with the second sure thing being Liam Neeson will indefinitely beat some people up to make sure everyone is safe.

But while the majority of Neeson action/thrillers are worth watching maybe once, Tombstones has a bit more going for it. There’s not a massive secret waiting to be revealed every other corner, but that gets old anyway, doesn’t it?

Former detective Matthew Scudder bums around New York performing private investigations for clients with clean hands and without. But when a drug kingpin wants to hire Scudder for the kidnapping and murder of his wife, Scudder becomes entangled in a sick world he might not be able to find his way out of.

This shot actually sums up the movie pretty well.

This shot actually sums up the movie pretty well.

You’ve got to know who you’re dealing with at this point. Next week’s The Equalizer will feature Denzel Washington playing himself as a guy that works at a hardware store and exacts justice on criminals at night. He’s always himself, as Liam Neeson will forever be the guy that goes in and out of his Irish accent while figuring out who took what and/or who. It’s a simple formula that bound to make money because hey, Liam Neeson. But is this any different than the other “Slam Bang Action Thrillers!” Neeson has put out?

Sure, in its own way. You’ll recognize a lot of the same elements Neeson seems to pick scripts for as mentioned above, but the gritty, 70s revenge/crime/tragic hero motif runs rampant throughout the film and while Neeson is a constant, the world we’re involved in is certainly an interesting one.

We’re not overexposed to gore or an extravagantly cynical look at “the way the world really is” as much as we are just the world these people have chosen to live in. It’s got hints of Se7en without attempting to be as cruel while it’s too driven a plot to be as mediocre as many mystery/thrillers.

"Where has she been TAKEN? A NON-STOP flight to a place UNKNOWN." Zing.

“Where has she been TAKEN? A NON-STOP flight to a place UNKNOWN?” Zing.

As mentioned also, was the fact that even though this is labeled as a “Mystery” the only real mystery is what happens at the end, as is the mystery of most movies, provided they’re not predictable heaps of garbage. Or just intended for younger audiences. What’s intriguing about the film is the constant pace that takes us from what place to the next. You won’t find some “This bottom-rung prostitute’s murder leads straight to the senator!” which would have really killed the set up.

No, we’re just given a hard nosed detective trying to uncover whatever dark secrets he can for the sake of those paying him. For anyone that’s looking for more should seek elsewhere, though you’d be missing out on a simple crime/thriller that delivers on the few things it promises. You won’t walk out feeling like you’ve wasted your time if you were interested in the first place.

I think some expect a review of a good movie to be ranting and raving about the perfect the movie at hand is, but that’s just not the case. Tombstones is at the very least what an adult movie should strive to be- interesting, well-paced, and unpretentious as to what it is.

They shouldn't have put this in the trailer.

They shouldn’t have put this in the trailer.

Postives: Neeson is comfortable in the role (Of course), nice homage to ‘Death Wish’-type films of the 70s, doesn’t attempt to be mind-blowing just compelling.

Negatives: Any movie that’s good can always be better, Neeson’s casting is going to draw the same good and bad traits of ANY of his other movies of the past few years.

Grade: B-

3 Responses to “Movie Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones”

  1. Have not watched this yet, however Neeson seems like an authentic action actor now. Maybe a bit like Charles Bronson brooding and quiet etc looking at the world with a jaundiced eye. Something a couple of other contemporaries could not quite pull off.

    • Taylor Says:

      Yeah, Steven Segal was criticizing current action movies for reasons such as guys like Neeson who “play” a hero as opposed to be a true “warrior.” Uh, I’d say he plays the part well. He’s an actor so I don’t expect him to snap necks like he’s popping Pez in reality.

      • Sure his wife died a couple of years ago in a tragic accident and he said he’s trying to keep busy with films. Stuff like that is bound to change how a man views the world. Although I maybe biased coz I’m Irish as well.


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