A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (2014, USA, 113m, 15) ***½
Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
dist. Universal Pictures (USA), Entertainment One (UK); pr co. 1984 Private Defense Contractors / Cross Creek Pictures / Da Vinci Media Ventures; d. Scott Frank; w. Scott Frank (based on the novel by Lawrence Block); pr. Tobin Armbrust, Danny DeVito, Brian Oliver, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher; ph. Mihai Malaimare Jr. (Technicolor | 2.39:1); m. Carlos Rafael Rivera; ed. Jill Savitt; pd. David Brisbin; ad. Jonathan Arkin.
cast: Liam Neeson (Matt Scudder), Dan Stevens (Kenny Kristo), Astro (TJ (as Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley)), Sebastian Roché (Yuri Landau), Boyd Holbrook (Peter Kristo), Maurice Compte (Danny Ortiz), David Harbour (Ray), Adam David Thompson (Albert), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (Jonas Loogan), Laura Birn (Leila Alvarez), Eric Nelsen (Howie), Razane Jammal (Carrie Kristo), Marielle Heller (Marie Gotteskind), Frank De Julio (Eduardo Solomon), Mark Consuelos (Reuben Quintana), Natia Dune (Nurse Anna), Liana De Laurent (Yuri’s Wife (as Liana Delaurent)), Danielle Rose Russell (Lucia), Samuel Mercedes (Jacinto), Leon Addison Brown (Stover).
A refreshingly old-school take on the PI genre sees Neeson as Matt Scudder, a former alcoholic NYPD detective who has cleaned up his act and now works as an unlicensed private detective. His latest client is a drug trafficker (Stevens) whose wife was kidnapped and brutally murdered, and as Neeson delves deeper, he finds it is the latest in the line of targeted abductions. Decidedly dark in tone, the script eschews the mystery elements of the plot and focuses on Neeson’s investigative interactions with the various lowlifes he has dealings with. Doing so he forms a reluctant partnership with a teenage black boy, played enthusiastically by Astro. Neeson is also in fine form and although the film never strays too far from genre conventions, it is a professionally packaged thriller that will satisfy noir aficionados.