The best part about Liam Neeson’s new starring vehicle, A Walk Among the Tombstones, is the song that plays over the closing credits. It’s a beautiful cover of “Black Hole Sun” by Nouela, and it perfectly captures the quietly tragic atmosphere that the film wallows in. That is not to say that A Walk Among the Tombstones was so bad that the closing credits were the best part about the film. It actually has a bunch of great components, but we are still left waiting for another film to accompany The Grey among great latter day Liam Neeson films (although I will hear arguments for Unknown).
A Walk Among the Tombstones is surprisingly not your typical action film that Liam Neeson has been doing lately. Instead it’s a detective film that features only two major action set pieces. The film follows Matthew Scudder (Neeson), a retired police officer and recovering alcoholic working as an under-the-table private detective in New York City. When Scudder is called in by a drug dealer (Dan Stevens) to find out who abducted, ransomed and then killed his wife, he reluctantly agrees and begins the long journey to finding the perpetrator. At almost two hours in length, A Walk Among the Tombstones fills its plot with many things, and it’s probably too much. There are a lot of interesting ideas presented in this film (redemption, the lack of veteran care in this country, the mishandling of the War on Drugs, etc.), but many come across as half-baked with so much going on at once. However, the most half-baked component of the film might be the actual mystery. The fate of the drug dealer’s wife and who took her is rather uninteresting and you just wish the film would go back to studying its interesting set of characters.
It’s the characters that make this film tolerable. Matthew Scudder falls right into the wheelhouse of Liam Neeson’s best acting attributes, and the darker tone of the character allows Neeson to give his best performance since The Grey. Additionally, Dan Stevens is completely unrecognizable as the drug dealer. I don’t know if his accent is authentic but it certainly is something and very consistent. Even the weaker characters get solid performances out of their portrayers. Brian “Astro” Bradley’s TJ comes across as a desperate attempt to inject some humor into this film, but Bradley is able to bring some humanity to the role, while David Harbour and Adam David Thompson play some of the weakest villains (not really a spoiler as the film oddly decides to reveal the identity of the killers as if it’s not some big secret) I can remember seeing in a film due to the clichéd writing of the characters but they try their hardest and that at times shines through.
A Walk Among the Tombstones gets by with an interesting set of characters even when the storyline falters.