Neeson’s latest sleepwalks among the tombstones
Liam Neeson may be taking “A Walk Among the Tombstones” but we the viewers are walking into two hours of boredom. This is a movie that wants to be clever and mysterious but instead it’s stale, uninspired, and clichè. It’s not necessarily terrible but, it’s just so “whatever.” I seriously can’t find a better word, that’s how little this movie stuck with me. In Scott Frank’s new mystery thriller, Neeson plays Matt Scudder, an ex-cop turned private detective who gets hired by a drug trafficker, played by Danny Ortiz. Unable to ask police to solve his wife’s murder, the drug dealer hires this hard-edged detective who has lost his lust for life.
While I feel that the film doesn’t dig deep enough into the character, Neeson’s performance, as per usual, surpasses the script’s shallowness. He does well as this gritty detective, however it’s not a far cry from Neeson’s role as the retired CIA agent from “Taken”(2008) where he appeared to be a super hero on steroids.
Most of the side characters seem to be cheap write-ins designed to simply move the plot forward and then disappear immediately afterwards. Everyone but Neeson’s character is pretty much expendable. There is, however, a homeless kid named TJ, played by Brain ‘Astro’ Bradely (“Earth to Echo” 2014) who manages to inspire some empathy.
One of this movie’s biggest problems is pacing. I completely understand that this is a mystery thriller that is supposed to take its time to build up, but this movie really drags on too long. While I do understand this is a noir film, it takes itself far too seriously, like noir films often do. This makes the few scenes that attempt comedy to be painfully awkward and feel out of place even though they are desperately needed to give the movie some life.
To his credit, Frank really helps the film manifest the dark noir feeling. From the characters to the rainy New York setting, happiness feels like a mere illusion in this movie.
While this movie is surprisingly not action-sequence heavy, the few memorable action scenes are filmed very well and the sound editing is spot on.
Though we can’t expect that much from Frank as a director, with his experience based on one major motion picture “Look Out” (2014) that didn’t do very well, and a few TV episodes. We should however have something to look forward to as far as writing goes, since Frank has built up quite a portfolio with movies like “The Wolverine”, “Marley and Me”, and “Minority Report”. Unfortunately, the entire story feels very cliché and obvious, which leads to the movie feeling pretty boring.
“A Walk Among Tombstones” is pretty much like your every day TV series drama like “Criminal Minds”; you know who the killers are and their motives, the only mystery is when they’ll be caught and how.
It looks like Frank wants us to solve the mystery step-by-step with the detective but that’s a little hard considering everything is given to you.
What mainly keeps you interested is watching the conclusion when Neeson finally catches these serial killers who show no remorse for their actions and find torturing to be the definition of a “good time”.
I walked out of the theater with very mixed feelings. The noir theme and the acting are both solid but the character development and plot are mediocre. The writing was completely cliché and unoriginal. I found myself checking the time thinking it lasted at least three hours, but the movie is actually only an hour and fifty minutes.
Overall, would I recommend shelling out the money to go watch this movie in a theater? Probably not, unless you’re a diehard Liam Neeson fan or a 1950’s film noir freak. Otherwise, you’ll probably survive if you wait until this movie ends up at a Redbox.