Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Walk Among The Tombstones

Liam Neeson doesn't know who you are. But he will find you, and he will kill you. Or so they say on that there Internet the kids are all hopped up on. I don't know how all these 60-ish guys do it. I work out, but after garotting a few guys and shooting some others, or just running 'em down in my car, I'm worn out for the night.

Not Liam, though. In A Walk Among The Tombstones, Neeson plays an ex-cop (now unlicensed PI) who gets roped into helping a drug trafficker whose wife has been kidnapped and very possibly killed.

In fact, someone is targeting the wives of drug traffickers all over the city. (New York City, of course. That's where we keep the serial killers. Well, there and Miami.)

Now, I always thought you didn't mess with drug traffickers because, y'know, they'll kill you. But our kidnapper/killer/crazy people manage to easily defeat the nonexistent security and just as easily extract money from our drug guys, who are strong family men, apparently.

Seriously, as part of the Liam Neeson action canon, this is a fine entry. Besides the action scenes, which are fairly spare but well done, there's actually a story here and a nice relationship story between Liam and a little black orphan (no, really!), which I enjoyed even as I felt it was sorta cheesy.

It's another one of these movies that takes place in the '90s, in this case just pre-Y2K, which is sort of a thing these days. The Lawrence Block novel on which it is based was released in the early '90s, so go figure. (Maybe the director wanted to bring it forward, but ubiquitous smart phones would have changed things too much, so he brought it forward as far as he could without screwing up the story.)

The Boy and the Flower both enjoyed it, as did I. Veteran writer Scott Frank did a fine job of directing here, and we look forward to seeing more from him in the future.


  1. I've mentioned on my blog how I'm a fan of Lawrence Block and so, of course, I enjoyed this movie. Not for those who think this is a spinoff from the Taken series - which I like, too - but for those who're looking for a good mystery with a little oomph to it. Yes, the relationship between Scudder and TJ is interesting but I find Scudder's struggle with sobriety to be more compelling. I also liked - in this movie, as well as the book - how Scudder works the case the old fashioned way: by knocking on doors and talking to people. Frank handled it with a montage-y kinda thing but it's there and tells us these kinds of things are solved by dogged hard work.

    Glad the kids liked it. A fine example of how this kind of thing is done.

    (Spoiler alert: in the book, TJ helps crack the case by introducing Scudder to phone hackers. Quaint, now, but clever back then.)

  2. Yeah, you know, they probably should've gone all out and put it in 1994, or whenever the book takes place. Old vs. new technology stuff can be fun and add some depth and interest, and the relationship between Scudder and TJ is really the most memorable thing here.

  3. I just didn't care for it. Finally saw it on demand and it was a misfire in my view. It could have been so much better.

    But I am happy that Lawrence got a good payday out of it.

  4. I never saw Matt Scudder as Liam Neeson. He is too big and physically imposing for the character.

    You know who I saw as Scudder. Gig Young.

    Yeah I know. I am really old.

    But he would have been perfect. He would have known how to play the part.

  5. Gig Young's been dead for 35 years, dude.

    But you know, people had a similar problem (in reverse) with Jack Reacher. Tom Cruise was physically the wrong type for the part, but it's a decent flick.

    But this is why I'm cautious about recommending book-based-movies to fans of the books.

    Gary Gygax wrote a scathing review of "Conan The Barbarian" based, in part, on Arnold not really fitting the sort-of Celtic look of Conan. (Conan was black-haired and blue-eyed.)

    And, hell, I've just plain stopped going to the Hobbit movies.


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