A Walk Among the Tombstones
- Katherine McLaughlin
- 17 September 2014
Misjudged thriller starring Liam Neeson that's unintentionally amusing
Liam Neeson treads by now very well worn ground as another ageing badass in this adaptation of Lawrence Block’s crime thriller from writer-director Scott Frank. Neeson is back on the phone negotiating with kidnappers, this time as unlicensed private investigator Matt Scudder.
A Walk Among the Tombstones hits the ground running as we see Scudder drawn into a Brooklyn bar gun-battle in 1991, though the action is marred by a messily displayed use of font. Fast-forward eight years and he's still dealing with the ramifications of the shootout and his alcoholism, whilst trying to stay under the radar. That is until trouble comes knocking at his door.
Scudder teams up with homeless teen TJ (Astro, who got his break on The X Factor USA) to solve the kidnapping of a drug dealer’s wife and prevent it happening again. In this absurd mix of deadly serious thriller and Cop and a Half-style buddy movie, where women exist only as objects to be abused and used as bargaining chips, life isn't going well for anyone.
The hackneyed dialogue is entertainingly bad, though Neeson’s approach is so half-hearted that corkers such as, 'caress it, rub it, like it’s part of you' (Scudder explaining to TJ how to properly use a gun) are delivered without the necessary gusto. At least Dan Stevens as the aforementioned drug dealer is having fun, gurning away through a fast-growing goatee.
With references to Philip Marlowe and discussion of what it takes to make a good detective it's clear Frank intends Scudder to become a household name but, given this dodgy effort, that may never happen. Although to be fair it does work better than the previous attempt to bring Scudder to the big screen: Hal Ashby’s 8 Million Ways to Die.
General release from Fri 19 Sep.