10/4/14

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES - REVIEW


Liam Neeson's back and yes, once again someone's been taken.

And he has a very specific set of skills.

A Walk Among The Tombstones definitely, on paper, may sound like yet another Taken rip-off (*cough* Unknown *cough* Non-Stop) but chances are you'll forget about Neeson's gimmicky yet career-redefining B-turned-A-movie quickly as you sit through this one, which is based on a series of novels.

The plot sees an ex-police detective turned private detective take on a case involving a drug dealer's wife who was kidnapped for ransom money then delivered to him in little pieces. The dealer understandably wants to find those responsible in order to, at the very least, ruin their day. Neeson soon follows a trail of suspects as the killers plan their next abduction. Along the way, our troubled detective meets a young boy called T.J. (Astro) who elects himself to be his partner and although that may start giving you Cop And A Half flashbacks, this movie handles this unspoken partnership pretty well. What sets A Walk Among The Tombstones apart from all those other silly actiony Liam Neeson films is its genuinely dark tone and the fact that it doesn't go for a cheap end twist. Instead, the killers are revealed to us relatively early on and the mystery becomes whether they'll ever get caught and who will make it out of this story alive, if anyone. It's like a slowly unravelling film noir in which you learn about everything gradually.

The film is surprisingly tense and well made plus its concept is an interesting, playful one: a detective working to help out drug dealers with legitimate problems like innocent family members getting abducted and killed in horrible ways. Neeson is as reliable as ever and the supporting cast does a great job remaining convincing throughout. You've got a very stern Dan Stevens playing the guy who initially hires Neeson, David Harbour as one of the creepy baddies, Sebastian Roché as one of the dealer victims and Olafur Darri Olafsson as one of the main suspects. The action isn't too over the top, instead popping up every so often for short, effective bursts of violence, and the whole thing owes more to a thriller like Prisoners than those Taken movies. It helps that the writing is rather sharp and full of clever, subtle touches which add some welcome black humour to an otherwise morose flick.

If you're expecting something ludicrously fun and dumb, you might want to wait for Taken 3 (aka Tak3n) which looks like it'll deliver exactly that. A Walk Among The Tombstones, however, is a grim, tense little thriller with some suspenseful moments, a more serious tone, an involving concept put together really well and packed with strong performances.

It's a good film: check it out.

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