A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)
Director: Scott Frank
A while ago I saw one of the newer Liam Neeson flicks “A Walk Among the Tombstones”. Sadly, it’s being advertised as basically being like “Taken 3” (which was reviewed earlier in this series actually) but it’s actually nothing like that, as it’s basically an old school film noir/hard boiled detective movie set in the late 90s with Neeson playing the Humphrey Bogart/Robert Mitchum role, with the villains kind of having a Dexter like vibe to them. Now, I know they call anything made in the ‘noir’ genre after the early 1960s ‘Neo-Noir’. I find that title to be a tad insulting to movies like this one. ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ is about as faithful to the genre as a modern day film can be without overly indulging in the sort of cliché elements of the 1940s movies such as gangsters with high pitched nasally accents, and everyone wearing trench coats and fedoras. There are nice little nods here and there in this movie, such as Liam Neeson’s character confusing the Stetson cologne company with the Stetson hat company, but by and large they are just harmless homages that add to the flavor of the film without taking away from the story.
Liam Neeson plays former New York police officer, Matthew Scudder. We first meet Scudder in a pre-title screen flashback from eight year before the events of the main story, all the way back in 1991. We see him walk into a beautifully shot smoke filled bar where the bartender, without having to be asked, brings him a whiskey, a coffee, and another whiskey. I won’t spoil what happens after this, except to say that it all plays out like one of those obligatory establishing scenes early on in a Dirty Harry movie meant to display both the bravado and the witticisms of the main character, only here Scudder is not the super human Harry Callahan caricature, but more like what an actual flesh and blood police officer (who still happens to be Liam freakin Neeson though) would be like. The scene ends with Neeson walking in slow motion down a flight of steps in another great piece of cinematographic showmanship. It was at this point that I began to fall for this movie, and I never looked back. This movie is tremendous. Great use of lighting, music, (that damn Donovan song will not get out of my head) pacing, acting, and everything. This movie doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it is very good in what it does set out to accomplish.