A Walk Among the Tombstones (8/10)
by Tony Medley
Running time 113 minutes.
Not for children.
Lawrence Block is a prolific writer of mysteries, more than 50. Iíve
read many of his books and the quality ranges from very good to
mediocre. He has several protagonists, one of whom is Matthew Scudder,
an ex-NYPD detective who is an unlicensed private investigator operating
just outside the law. Scudder has appeared in 17 books and a full length
collection of short stories. This film is based on his 1992 novel of the
Liam Neeson plays Scudder, and he is a much more accurate representation
of Blockís protagonist than 5-7 Tom Cruise is of Lee Childís 6-5 240 lb.
protagonist, Jack Reacher. Scudder is a former alcoholic who has been
reformed through AA. The film opens with the incident that finally drove
him from the bottle. It then jumps to 1999, many years later, and his
meeting with Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens, known by many for his
performances in TVís Downton Abbey), a drug dealer whose wife,
Carrie (Flying Blindís Razane Jammal) has been kidnapped and who wants
to retain Scudder to find the bad guys.
And the bad guys, Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson)
are really creepy in their cold-blooded savagery. In fact, the only
criticism I have of the movie are the few scenes showing the relatively
graphic torture of one of their victims, Leila Alverez (Laura Birn, who
gives a captivating performance in her short time on the screen, one
that you wonít soon forget) and the way they taunt her while they are
doing it. While this certainly set the situation that they are both
irredeemably hateful, putting it in such explicit terms was gratuitously
excessive and risks restricting the audience to which it will appeal. I
found the scenes extraordinarily off-putting.
Ably written and directed by Scott Frank, the outstanding gritty
cinematography of New York City (Brooklyn, eight days were night shoots
in Brooklynís GreenWood Cemetery) by Mihai Malaimare, Jr. captures the
darkness of the story and the bleakness, degradation, and dilapidation
of New York in the winter.
There are fine supporting performances by ”lafur Darri ”lafsson as James
Loogan, a cemetery custodian, and Brian ďAstroĒ Bradley, a rapper who
plays TJ, a homeless teenaged artist whom Scudder meets in the library.
Almost annually since his breakout hit, Taken, in 2008, Neeson
has come out with a terrific thriller and this one does not disappoint.
September 16, 2014