A Walk Among the Tombstones – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

A Walk Among the TombstonesA Walk Among the Tombstones – 3.5/5 – Liam Neeson is a man of many faces.  He is an actor who can play in many kinds of film.  No matter if it’s being great in dramatic roles, or kicking ass in action oriented tales, he stands out on top always.  Even in bad films, Neeson can command roles and bring an entertaining value to them.  When it comes to his latest outing (A Walk Among the Tombstones), he does what he does best.  He brings a simple/straight forward story and adds enough charm and pizzazz to make it endearing and acceptably entertaining.   With an addition help made from great technical aspects, A Walk Among the Tombstones is a film that becomes a decent thriller in the end.

Premise: Hired to find 2 killers; Scudder learns there is more to the crime.  As things unravel in this crime drama, one learns truth of overcoming circumstance, and learning that redemption comes  when you see walk among the dead.

Leading the way (as mention above in the prologue) is Liam Nesson.  He plays the main character of Matt Scudder.  An ex-cop turned Private Eye; he is tasked with finding two maniac killers.  Within the norms of a ‘cop drama’, he exceeds within its simplistic tone, commanding the screen with his captivating charisma.   What makes Nesson stand out is the ‘aura’ he brings to the character; one where you believe in his brevity but also know there is strength in his sincerity, regardless of the people he interacts with.  Once the film get’s into the latter part, you get the ‘staunch’ Nesson-isms of strong line delivery and action elements, but that adds to the depth of his character.  Outside of him, the rest of the cast is a mix bag of traditional crime drama archetypes and one-dimensional characters.  Describing them is not worth noting, as you can just refer to the IMDB page.  Out of the side characters, the one that is worth mention is the young kid who becomes Scudder’s pseudo ‘sidekick’; TJ.  He is played by actor Astro.  He provides a witty but intuitive compliment to Neeson’s character, one that is built upon ‘old vs. new’ concepts.  You see a buddy cop trope within their relationship, but it never flows into the realm of cliché.  The bantering is a welcome ‘comic relief’ to the film, keeping the experience fresh and never allowing it to drown in its simplistic direction.

The direction and story can be described as a bag of mixed genres.  When it comes to the first two-thirds of this film, it is a basic crime drama.  You have in the first two acts as followed:

First act: Intro to the main character and ‘crime’ situation; investigation ensues

Second act: Elements of evidence, additional links and investigative interactions; common reveals and convenient plot devices to link ‘crimes’

The movie moves at a very predictable pace.  You have Matt Scudder brought in to investigate the disappearing of a drug trafficker’s wife.  From here, layers began to unravel through procedural affects; where Scudder interviews, analyses and questions people involved or knows something about the crimes.  This gives the movie a ‘straight forward’ affect.  There is no twist or impeccable tonal shifts; it’s methodical in being a simple story about a crime.  This could hinder a viewing experience, but because of the great commandment of Nesson in the role of the private eye, you’re engrossed enough to want him to catch the criminals.  The slow pacing would have brought the film to mediocrity, but then there is a certain moment that shifts the film.  Here, when the criminals are revealed, the film shifts its simple mantra to a more piercing dark tone.  Here, the film turns into an atmospheric thriller, one built upon ‘mood’ and ‘sensational’ effect from either the set pieces or dialogue.  You get both and start to feel the ‘psycho’ presence of the killers and the strong embroiled personality of Scudder.  As the film flows into the third act and to the ‘ultimate’ confrontation, that mix bag culminates in an eerie but thrilling climax, one where you feel enthralled by the ‘expected’ conclusion, but at the same time enjoyed the dark turn that the film ended up being.  This is a good compliment, and one that shows how mixing genres can be done in a decent fashion.

The film might have had a simple story, but a lot of the film is built upon the technical aspect of the visuals and score.  When it comes to the visuals, you have a grounded approach.  Here, the film is brought down to ‘street level’, allowing the story to be dictated by area.  Through this (as mentioned above) that atmospheric affect is rippled throughout and around Scudder.  You are engrossed additionally by the sights and sounds of the area, one that makes you wonder what is really behind every corner; trying to find proof in what is being shown to you.  The grit is strong and that lasting raw affect allows intensity to be built upon visual precisions instead of story oriented element.  This ironic twist in camera angle/movement forces the story to be ‘believable’ through your eyes more vividly. The score is another great layering affect in the film.  With the sound, you feel what you hear, allowing sensations to double and the intensity to amplify.  This is especially effective in the latter part of the film, when the tone shifts.  When that happens, the darkly attitude has a stronger affect because of the ‘subtle’ use of sound and musical quips.  This allows it to trickle in a resounding way, allowing the background to be felt as much as the character and story.

A Walk Among the Tombstones might have a lot of traditional tropes, but because of Nesson’s charm and the technical allure used to build this film, you have a worth wild experience.  If you’re a fan of Liam Nesson or like crime dramas, this is a film for you.  It might not garner award aspiration, but it does provide something fun to watch at the theaters.

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