Liam Neeson has made a name for himself over the past few years, essentially making the same style of movies and playing the same character within them - however, with just enough talent to allow for subtle but vital differences to discern between them all. ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ follows Neeson’s current career path nicely with a similar trajectory to his recent work - only this one is grittier and not as gratuitously (or awesomely, depending on how you view it) violent as its predecessors.
Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a former alcoholic New York detective turn unlicensed private detective who does “favours” for people. When he’s hired by a drug trafficker to find the men who kidnapped, raped and killed his wife, Scudder finds himself following the clues down a very dark and disturbing rabbit hole.
Due to the horrific nature of the crimes committed in the story, the visual accompaniment is, for the most part, rather tame, the heavy themes only being verbally referenced or subtly portrayed, with the occasional exception. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing, allowing for the intelligence of the script to shine through rather than its graphic content, although slightly disappointing with the hopes of another ‘Silence of the Lambs’ style psychological thriller falling short. But what pushes ‘Tombstones’ past the clichés is writer/director Scott Frank’s noir approach and visual styling with dark, eerie palates, and some spot-on casting in both the major and minor roles.
Sure, ‘Tombstones’ could be glossed over by the less interested and labelled as just another Liam Neeson film; neither good nor bad. But there's actually more here if you dare to find it, and since it’s based on the Matthew Scudder mystery crime series by author Lawrence Block, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we see more of these tales popping up in the future, so get comfortable.