A Walk Through the Tombstones. I thought that this film was going to be a grittier, darker form of Taken (or most of the films Liam Neeson does lately) where Liam decides to kill more people than the whole of the Expendables without breaking a sweat because someone was dumb enough to piss him and his particular set of skills off…am I the only one that remembers Liam got famous for a movie about saving thousands of people not mercilessly slaughtering them? It was kind of like that, but dark, a little too self-occupied, and completely anti-climactic.
In a tone reminiscent of Gone Baby, Gone (though not living up it) the film follows Neeson’s character, Matt Scudder, a recovering alcoholic and ex-cop who is haunted by the action of his drinking past. Now working as an unlicensed private investigator, Scudder is hired by a drug dealer to find the people who kidnapped his wife and killed her in ways that would be gruesome even by the standards of the drug cartels. What Scudder soon finds is that he has stumbled upon a pair of serial killers that are praying on the innocent wives and girlfriends of drug dealers. Along the way he acquires a side kick in the form of a homeless adolescent whom he more or less adopts.
If that last sentence seemed a little random it should. There were a lot of random parts to this story that didn’t quite fit and were more or less left hanging at the end. The whole movie seemed more like the pilot for a very dark TV show that would follow Scudder as he solved one dark crime after another while seeking redemption for his past…it would make an excellent HBO or Showtime production. But instead we got a single film that does not resolve any of the larger issues. The relationship between Scudder and his new apprentice is just left hanging. The heavy handed theme of redemption through AA’s 12 steps (and if you see this movie, you’ll understand that I’m understating things when I say the 12 steps are delivered in a heavy handed way) is never fully realized…as while there does seem to be some redemption for a side character, some but not much, is still nothing but the continuing mess of a life Neeson’s character…granted this goes with AA’s mantra of ‘one day at a time’…but that would only be fully demonstrated if we were given a TV show that could show him making it only one day at a time.
As to the other parts of the story, the serial killers come off as utterly terrifying and repulsive. None of this Hollywood ideal of a witty serial killer who plays mind games…none of that. Just two exceedingly perverted things that enjoy inflicting unspeakable pain on people. Accuracy aside, I think I would prefer Hollywood shtick of the witty and charismatic serial killer as I have little desire to peer into the darkness that is the real behavior of these people.
That aside, Neeson as always did an excellent job in his continuing quest to milk every iota of acting potential from every part he can take even when there isn’t much to work with. The rest of the cast however came in as competent, but and I know I’m sounding like a broken record, more the quality you would expect from a TV pilot. Everybody else did what the part required, but nothing really stood out. The script was so-so and the directing nothing spectacular.
I give the movie as a whole 3.5 out of 5. Honestly you should wait for Netflix rather than seeing it in the theater.