Review | A Walk Among the Tombstones
What a wonderful feeling to see that movies like A Walk Among the Tombstones still exist. An old school detective noir thriller that understands the genre’s rules and avoids atempting to blow your mind with stupid plot twists, choosing to focus on characters and atmosphere. As it should be.
Adapted from Lawrence Block’s book, the plot begins when private detective Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is hired to find the kidnappers responsible for the murder of a drug dealer’s (Dan Stevens) wife, even with a prperly paid ransom. The deadly hunt than makes Scudder uncover a network of similar crimes, putting him closer and closer to the responsibles.
It’s a direct, straight foward story. Writer director Scott Frank puts aside the action to focus on a de se, atmospheric narrative, always with Neeson’s character on center. The flashbacks from his traumatic past, as well as his constant visits to an AA group, function in making Scudder multidimensional, even if the motivations are cliched. Fourtunately, Liam Neeson is awalys capable of providing an efficient crowd friendly performance, and here manages to be something more of just another cop stereotype.
Another greatly satisfying thing about the story here is the absence of a big nonsense twist in the ending, one of the factors responsible for ruining recent productions in the genre. Instead, Frank remains on the basic: there are two cruel killers at large, we go after them, the third act is set and that’s it. None of the preposterous elements that blemished some good movies starred by Neeson, like Non-Stop and Unknown. However, I do admit the conclusion extended a bit to much beyond necessary, having no need to the narrative to go on for like, 10 minutes on the third act.
As a director, Frank is outstanding. From the surprinsing opening credits on close ups (that reveal their true, terrible nature on the final seconds) to the intense showdown at a cemetery, it’s a first class cinematographic construction. Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr paints a dark and melancholic New York, dominated by gray on day scenes and surrounded by shadows during the night. The antecipation for the so-called Y2K Problem (the story is set in 1999) is also interesting, as if the city was under siege due to fear. Finally, the discreet and punctual score from Carlos Rafael Rivera provides an appropriate tone to the investigation.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is an elegant thriller that brings back memory from the good old detective stories, sticking it close to a solid formula that works very well in it’s sharp execution.