The movie A Walk among Tombstones (directed by Scott Frank) has many elements that promise good entertainment. Not only does it star Liam Neeson but it's based on author Lawrence Block's award-winning Matt Scudder mysteries.
Before I get into my thoughts, here's the studio's summary:
Based on Lawrence Block’s bestselling series of mystery novels, A Walk among the Tombstones stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. When Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and then brutally murdered his wife, the PI learns that this is not the first time these men have committed this sort of twisted crime . . . nor will it be the last. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, Scudder races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.The good: Neeson does a great job capturing the character of Scudder, who has given up alcohol and his NYPD badge to take up freelancing. He is brooding and still battling the demons that prompted him to leave the police force. In addition the period details (for example, everyone is worried about Y2K) and muted lighting both fit the story well. The action scenes pulled me in, and I was appropriately startled by a couple of the plot points.
The well, OK, I'll buy it: The time period is 1999, and Scudder is still not up to par with modern technology. But fortunately for him, he meets and befriends the teenaged TJ (played by Brian "Astro" Bradley), who helps him navigate the library's computer. TJ is homeless but seems plenty clean and very familiar with technology (maybe because he sleeps in the library when he can get away with it). His jive talk also seems a little bit off to me, but I'm not sure.
The not so good: Unfortunately, this movie wasn't a total hit for me. First, I felt the plot dragged at times, and for some reason, I wasn't worried enough about the fate of the potential next murder victim. Maybe I just assumed that Scudder would figure it all out in time to save her, so I wasn't really on the edge of my seat. In addition, there were no strong female characters. In fact, I'm not sure if any of the women or girls had more than a line or two, if that. Finally, I thought the overall tough-guy atmosphere need more of a buffer or contrast.
The recommendation: Although A Walk among Tombstones was only so-so for me, it might work better for you. The Roger Ebert website had a lot of good things to say about the filming and adaptation of Block's character. Other sites seem to agree with me: Neeson's performance is worth watching, but keep your expectations in check.
Blu-ray + Digital HD: A Walk among Tombstones is now out in Blu-ray and digital editions (so you can "watch it anywhere"). The bonus features include a look behind the scenes and an exclusive titles "Matt Scudder: Private Eye." Thanks to Way to Blue and Universal Studios for providing me with a review copy.