Friday, 19 September 2014

Review: A Walk Among The Tombstones

World of Blackout Film Review

A Walk Among The Tombstones Poster

A Walk Among The Tombstones
Cert: 15 / 114 mins / Dir. Scott Frank
WoB Rating: 5/7

Playing a furrow-browed recovering alcoholic, divorced ex-cop turned unlicensed private investigator, Matt Scudder (no, seriously) is drawn into investigating the brutal murder of a drug-dealer's wife. It soon becomes apparent that he's dealing with a pair of deranged serial killers with DEA connections, and without police backup, Scudder is going to have to play by their rules.

What a difference a book makes, eh?. This film which, on the surface at least, appears to be a clone of Neeson's staple-output these days carries a lot more weight than its contemporaries, largely due to the fact that it's based on an established novel, rather than than a nondescript, hastily assembled vehicle for Liam to scowl and grumble through. That's not to say that Liam doesn't scowl and grumble through A Walk Among The Tombstones, but with a weightier plot than his usual fare, it's certainly more justified (oh, and this time his jacket is brown corduroy instead of black leather - that's my kind of vigilante, right there).

While the film is far from flashy, it holds more than a few stylised shots and edits, working as an odd counterpoint to the often gleefully sadistic plot. For the most part it's desaturated palettes all around (although interestingly, the street flashback-scene in the trailer which is almost sepia'd within in inch of its life, is used in the film in full, saturated colour). The story takes place in a New York which seems sparsely populated, and even that number goes down by one when Neeson's Bronx accent does a runner after the first act. That's no biggie in itself, but it is noticeable.

Great supporting turns come from David Harbour and Adam Thompson as the sociopaths with a penchant for vehicle spraying (inside and out), and Astro as Scudder's persistent sidekick, TJ (it's got to be a real challenge to make comic relief work in a film like this one, but they've done it well).

It's got to be said that this is by no means a great film, but it is a good one, and it's this level which Neeson needs to be aiming for consistently. Tombstones should be his standard, not one of his recent high-points. Watch if you enjoyed last year's Nic Cage thriller, The Frozen Ground.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
If anything the film is a bit darker than the trailer, thematically. This is a hard 15, to the point where it feels exploitative in places.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I did.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I think so, but the character of Scudder himself seems slightly generic, so it'd be interesting to see a different actor cast in the role.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
If anything, the amped-up reality of the film might seem sillier on a small screen, so I think this is going to work better in a cinema, if at all.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
At some point.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Didn't hear one. Out of order.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
How come the bearded murderer, Albert can hear young T.J.'s mobile phone ringing over a storm and through a closed-car-door from about twelve feet away, when 5 minutes later he's sitting in a quiet kitchen and can't hear someone putting the window out in the next room?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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