Take a Shot: when Matt pulls out his gun
Take a Body Shot: when Matt talks tough on the phone
Shotgun a Beer: when something sudden happens
Down a 32 oz: during the epic and tense finale.
By: Jake Turner (Two Beers) –
Take a trip back in time with me to see how A Walk Among the Tombstones came to fruition, starting with how author Lawrence Block finally got it off the ground this year. Tombstones was actually written in 1992 and even with a script by Scott Frank (The Lookout, Minority Report) and Harrison Ford starring, it got stuck in limbo.
22 years later, Frank got his wish and jumped into the director’s chair while Ford was replaced by Liam Neeson. Good news, A Walk Among the Tombstones is indeed worth the wait.
Neeson is Matthew Scudder, a New York City cop now turned private investigator after a horrific incident in 1991 forced him to leave the force. Eight years later, two men void of morality and compassion have been murdering the wives of drug dealers. Scudder is hired by Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens, The Guest) to investigate and take out the men who killed his wife even after receiving her ransom.
These kind of books make such terrific source material. The Drop comes to mind.
Your hard-earned money would be spent wisely just seeing the writing and performances. Frank’s writing mixed in with the hard-boiled dialogue of the novel works in unison wonderfully. It is set in the year of 1999 and you really feel it, with Y2K uncertainty in the air along with numerous flip phones.
Good news is not one computer is used in this film. On with the show!
Frank’s last effort, The Lookout, gave us a sense of realism in its plot, and the psychological aspect mixed in with grit made it one of the best of 2007. Tombstones has that working for it as well, and Frank knows how to respect his audience by giving the moviegoer their own picture of the amoral acts these two men commit, favoring tension over gore glamorization, but the violence, though sparse, is sudden and eye-opening.
Neeson was tailor-made for a complex character study like Scudder and clearly shows that he can not only play a badass, but also a character drenched in shame because of a life-changing event just eight years ago. Stevens drifts into Kristo with ease and disappears into the role when you see his character stay composed and replace mourning with anger. You can already tell that Kristo was hiding something.
I may look like the man from Taken, but I am not him. Do not tempt me.
As for the villains, they operate in slow and meticulous ways that would creep out even a convict doing a nickel in prison, starting with stalking with a van and finishing with the unjust murder of innocent women who in fact are married to men that operate outside the law.
However, they ditched a sub story involving Scudder’s girlfriend, Elaine, focusing on his issues from that day and solving this mystery. Instead they build a flawed and awkward partnership with a black kid named T.J. (Brian Bradley) that, while the dialogue and chemistry are solid, the setup takes away pieces of the story, making it predictable and, at times, losing focus on Scudder and his goal of finding the killers.
A Walk Among the Tombstones shows a departure from Neeson’s latest action hero saga with complexity and gritty substance that alone makes it a solid crime thriller that starts the “substance over style” fall season. As I mentioned before, the performances and writing are alone worth the price. Not every movie has to be the best of the year, but it is solid.