Monday, October 6, 2014

A Walk among the Tombstones review

A Walk among the Tombstones review
By Rob Jefchak

            Ever since “Taken” took off as a runaway, surprise success; Liam Neeson has been transformed into a modern movie, action star bad ass that once took on the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. The biggest difference with Neeson is he is a CLASS A actor and no B Grade action movie star. Even if Neeson is doing the same thing over and over again; he does it with genuine style and talent. So while at first glance “A walk among the tombstones” looks like Neeson just doing what he does best with his “particular set of skills”, that doesn’t mean it’s exactly like “Taken” or that you should dare dismiss it.

            In this gritty, crime thriller; Matt Scudder (Neeson) is a former cop; now turned private eye who is contacted by a drug dealer (Maurice Compte), he hires Scudder to track down the criminals who kidnapped his wife and hopefully rescue her. After finding out the brutal details of the women’s death, Scudder sets out to find the kidnappers and make them pay before another victim is claimed. This sounds a lot like a darker, more violent take on “Taken” and in some ways, I can admit that. However, this is more of a mystery/crime film than a straight up action hero flick; producing far more disturbing visuals and brutality than even I expected to see.

            No matter what role Neeson takes, whether it seems exactly like his last role or completely different; he always gives it 110% and proves why he is a classy cut above other action star heroes. From the very beginning of the film, we get to see what kind of cop Scudder is and what kind of a person he ultimately becomes throughout the years. His life (like the movie) is dark, dreary and full of shadows that continue to choke the city and the people in it. I was truly thankful Neeson was used as a detective here and not some super, martial arts master FBI agent like he’s played many times before. “Tombstones” is about solving a gruesome mystery and taking time to build up the serial killers, their methods and how Neeson plans to stop them.

            Speaking of methods; I’ve seen MANY films with heartless criminals kidnapping and murdering people but even I was shocked at the savagery in this film. These people are scum and in a way, everyone in this film feels dirty and dark and I think that’s the unique hidden spark amongst this grim story: everyone’s got some shady shadows in their closet. There’s even a sort of friendship/relationship formed by Scudder and a young homeless hacker named TJ (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley). It’s a unique relationship because it never gets too corny or cliché, maintaining a dark edge but molding a meaningful connection between two people who feel disconnected from everyone.

            While this film doesn’t do anything wild or new, it still manages to be a solid film all around and sometimes that’s a better thing to have rather than trying something daring and failing miserably. Creativity is something I am always up for but it doesn’t hurt now and then to tell a straight solid story movie and make sure THAT movie delivers what you wanted and expected from it, and that is pretty much what “Tombstones” is. If Neeson was a boring lead or I got tired of seeing him go all “Taken” on people’s asses then maybe I’d feel this is getting repetitive, but after seeing him in this “Unknown” and “Non-stop” and realizing I’m still NOT sick of this…and probably never will be.

            “A walk among the tombstones” is Neeson’s way of saying ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it’, while adding some darker drama into the mix. It’s a successful mixture that compels and captivates your craving for more Neeson awesomeness and while it’s not really THAT new, it’s still damn good enough to warrant a watch.

I give “A Walk among the tombstones” 2 and ½ stars out of 4.