Retired police officer Matt (Liam Neeson) has found a second career as a private investigator, and is drafted in by a drug trafficker, when his wife is kidnapped and killed. As Matt investigates the men behind the attack, he uncovers a series of murders, and finds an unlikely ally.
Based on Lawrence Block’s novel of the same name, A Walk Among The Tombstones is not, despite what the trailer would have you believe, another Neeson filled action movie á la Taken. Instead, A Walk Among the Tombstones is a procedural detective story with some incredibly, and unnecessarily tangled plot lines.
Liam Neeson takes his action hero status down a notch as Matt Scudder, instead opting to play a man who walked away from the job he loved, and one who is unwilling to try new technology or take on any new friends. Neeson excels at playing the outcast loner, so is firmly in his comfort zone here. Dan Stevens plays the trafficker whose wife was kidnapped, and is perhaps the most gentrified drug dealer ever seen on screen. This is not to say that Stevens is not good in the role, the character is just slightly unbelievable. Astro – recently seen in Earth to Echo – plays Matt’s self appointed sidekick TJ, and while he is perfectly fine in the role, it just feels as though we have seen this story before.
Perhaps it is because the book was released in 1992, or perhaps because the film is made out to be something other than what it is, but A Walk Among the Tombstones feels incredibly familiar and unoriginal. Scott Frank’s screenplay tries to tie together several different plots and subplots, but this results in an unappealing and hard to follow mess. There is also undue focus given to the world’s paranoia in the lead up to Y2K, with absolutely no pay off, or none that makes sense anyway.
As director, Scott Frank does not seem to challenge his actors, meaning that Neeson, Stevens and the rest of the cast give performances that are just about convincing enough to get by. The film does not feel as though it has a steady or distinctive voice, and the final set piece is dragged out to the point of boredom. In fact, the entire film would be rather forgettable, if it were not for the odd story choices and inconsistent characters.
A Walk Among The Tombstones is not the Liam Neeson action film we have been waiting for. What it is, however, is a fairly decent thriller that will be forgotten by the time you reach the doors of the cinema. Neeson is fine, as is Stevens and Astro, but this is not a film that is going to spark discussion or do anything more than provide a distraction for a couple of hours.