By Allison Skornick-Rose

Sep 19, 2014 07:48 AM EST


A Walk Among the Tombstones Theatrical Review

ore than just a “scary film”, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” makes you think, and to a certain extent, feel bad for the drug dealers whose loved ones have been taken from them and brutally murdered for the sake of money and a warped “thrill”.

I'm always fascinated by what motivates people, especially serial killers, to do the depraved things they do.  Unfortunately for me, "A Walk Among the Tombstones" doesn't delve that deeply into the Psyches of the duo killing and chopping up the women who are loved by drug dealers in NY.  Instead it tells the story of Matt Scudder, played by Liam Neeson (Taken, Nonstop), a former NY police officer and recovering alcoholic, who left the force and is now working as an unlicensed private investigator.
When Scudder is asked by Danny Ortiz (Maurice Compte; Sabotage), to find the two men who killed his wife, Scudder immediately suspects there is more to the story.  It takes Scudder less than a minute to realize Ortiz is a drug dealer who was targeted for his money.  Following the trail of the horrific way in which Ortiz's wife was killed Scudder finds other, similar murders in the past few years and discovers he is looking for serial killers stalking drug traffickers with large amounts of readily available cash that can be used to pay a ransom.  When the next victim is the daughter of a drug dealing associate of Ortiz, Scudder devices a plan to get the girl back and stop these guys for good.
Neeson is excellent as always as the former cop who drank too much after the job "damaged" him and has now, several years later, managed to keep his demon at bay while never fully conquering them.  He plays a standoffish guy who doesn't necessarily like or trust people and keeps them at arm's length as if he is fearful they will discover his "secret".  The problem with this character is that we have seen it before from Neeson and it feels as if he is starting to become "typecast".  While he does it well, it would be nice to see him play a different kind of role once in a while.
The supporting cast is strong and David Harbour( The Newsroom) as Ray and Adam David Thompson (All Wifed Out) as Albert, lend and air to the killers that is chilling and disturbing.  Newcomer Astro (Earth To Echo) does a terrific job as TJ; an intelligent, street-wise teenager who, despite Scudder's best efforts, becomes a sort of protégé to the ex-cop.  TJ brings a bit of humor to an otherwise dark movie and Astro plays the role with equal parts sensitivity, venerability and "spunck.
The screenplay written by the film's Director, Scott Frank (Minority Report, Wolverine) is one the problems with the film.  Anytime a novel, in this case written by Lawrence Block, is adapted for the screen, vital pieces are omitted for brevity's sake.  "A Walk Among the Tombstones" suffers this fate as I felt some of the plot and character development were left out.  I would have like to have learned more about Scudder's , TJ's, Ray's and Albert's pasts and how they helped shaped the people they are in the film and, as I mentioned already,  I would have loved to get a peek inside Ray's and Albert's minds to try and discover why they didn't merely kill their victims but felt the need to terrorize them first.
Despite the need for more background, the story was unique and interesting and Frank certainly made the most of every scene helping to build the suspense and drama along the way.  More than just a "scary film", "A Walk Among the Tombstones" makes you think, and to a certain extent, feel bad for the drug dealers whose loved ones have been taken from them and brutally murdered for the sake of money and a warped "thrill".  The almost two hour running time is well spent and worth sitting through. 

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MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 113 minutes
Distributed By: Universal Pictures

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