A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014): Private investigator Matthew Scudder is hired by a drug kingpin to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.
Ok ok ok I know what you're thinking. This is Taken 2.5. Well, it's not. I swear! Whereas the Taken series is an action thriller with no bounds to realism whatsoever, A Walk Among the Tombstones is a nitty gritty good ol' fashion detective film noir piece. A Walk Among the Tombstones is all about the journey to the destination, whereas Taken is all about getting to the destination. To be honest I almost felt that Liam Neeson was miscast for this role. This is not an action hero role. This is a thoughtful detective role. Maybe Benedict Cumberbatch would've filled this role better. Let's be real: Sherlo-I mean Cumberbatch can make any movie better. But in all seriousness I feel like a Bryan Cranston would play this role much better than Neeson could. But that's just me. That said Neeson does do a great job playing Matthew Scudder. There were just points, like when he's on the phone with the killer trying to save someone when all I could think of was, "I don't know who you are...." I think this may be a sign that Neeson is getting too big for his own good. Only time will tell if that's true or not. Anyway, moving on.
What this movie does right: it is a true return to film noir. A Most Wanted Man from last week flirted with noir, but this movie is a true detective whodunit. This movie is a great period piece, making 1999 feel like it was 50 years ago and making me feel REALLY OLD in the process. I'm only 22, but I remember the Y2K hype that is shown all throughout this 113 minute movie like it was yesterday. But you watch it on screen and it looks so different than today's society. It is only slightly jarring. The 90s references do get distracting at points but only at points. Also the movie looks beautiful, with cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. doing a fantastic job of making New York City look real and believable. Additionally there are some great and unique camera shots throughout the movie, like a top-down camera shot of a mugging in the rain that looked awesome. The child actor of this movie, Brian "Astro" Bradley was outstanding. Easily the best character of the movie, the 18 year old Astro creates this badass kid (with the help of some excellent writing) who Neeson treats the way I love seeing kids treated in movies: like they are adults. Please movies! Please treat the children of your movie like adults it makes them so much cooler I promise! Their interactions and their constant bickering was the comedic relief of the movie, and definitely needed as the rest of the movie is rather dry. Now dry is not a bad thing by any means, especially in the film noir genre, but this will turn off a lot of potential viewers. It's tough to engage young(er) viewers when things aren't blowing up every 3 seconds with plot only a minor afterthought (see Michael Bay) but fortunately Scott Frank and company know this. As a result this movie does make its scenes very gritty and real, earning its R-rating from the very first scene, a very uncomfortable and painful torture scene, to its very gruesome third act.
Here is also where the movie falls apart a bit. I obviously can't talk about the third act without spoiling things, but let's just say the movie does turn into Taken a bit in the last 20-30 minutes, with highly cliché moments all throughout it. If only the very sudden and very noir-ey ending of A Most Wanted Man was also used here, then you would have had one heck of a great movie. But oh well. So a not-so-good third act. Check. The score was sadly underwhelming, with it swelling at inopportune times and being somewhat distracting. Finally, a noir piece is only as good as its story, and the story here is good, but not great. There just weren't that many twists and turns. Really there was only thing I didn't see coming, and it was spoiled in the trailers. It was a good ride, but not one that I have any desire to see again anytime soon because it was a predictable one. Oh well. Let's just go watch Non-Stop again, because Liam Neeson. WHAT ABOUT NON-STOP THOUGH?
The Critique: A good but predictable film noir piece plus Liam Neeson. An engaging ride but that's about it.
The Recommendation: If you like Liam Neeson or film noir, check this out. If not, save your money for the upcoming weeks. Just Netflix this one when the time comes. Oh and if you have kids, please PLEASE don't watch this with them. Ok? Please? Good.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
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