Justice hasn’t been served so effectively on the streets since Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty” Harry Callahan character snuffed out punk killers in the early 1970s. Liam Neeson, in his most weighty film role yet, quietly and confidently leads this suspense thriller based off of the bestselling crime novel series by Lawrence Block.
Neeson plays retired NYPD cop Matt Scudder, an unflappable but also unlicensed private detective, who provides “favors” to clients wishing to make personal problems go away. In “A Walk Among the Tombstones”, Neeson is hired to find the kidnapping killers of a drug trafficker’s wife, one of many gruesome deaths in this violent film from director Scott Frank (“Marley & Me”, 2008). The dark, sinister plot is the perfect match for Neeson’s quiet demeanor and steady resolve on the big screen. Matching every stone turned by Neeson for fresh leads in the case is an equally talented cast of associates and cold-blooded killers. Together, this cat-and-mouse high stakes thriller will leave audiences glued to their seats and many with their eyes shut during its most harrowing parts.
This film is not a continuation of the “Taken” films by Neeson, where hand-to-hand fight scenes dwindle the number of bad guys by tenfold. Instead, Neeson relies on his investigative skills to follow each lead, attempting to keep his professional distance from the victims and not make the crimes too personal. The movie’s pace, however, intensifies to a fever pitch when Neeson’s character finally grabs the phone and directly takes over ransom negotiations with the kidnappers. From this point on, viewers will relish the intensity and fast-paced tempo of the movie.
“A Walk Among the Tombstones” is a relentless suspense thriller that inspires easy comparisons to Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” in those 1970’s match-ups against serial killers in San Francisco. A man of few words and little regard for a criminal’s rights, Neeson’s former cop character deals with New York City killers the only way they understand; justice served in the street and on the spot. This is a violent film with several torture scenes that will make viewers unsettled and squeamish until the end. An excellent supporting cast provides the quintessential backdrop to a private investigator with much on his mind and yet little left to prove to others. Neeson’s mystique role is sure to make this film an instant classic in the cops-and-killer genre. It has also left open the option for more movies from the popular crime novel series by Block. And that should make audiences and Harry Callahan fans excited.
“A Walk Among the Tombstones” is rated R with a running time of 1 hour and 54 minutes.
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