Having been a fan of Liam Neeson for a lifetime (see “The Bounty,” “The Mission,” “Ethan Frome” and maybe “Krull”), it is hard to forgive Neeson for the lame movies he’s been making over the last decade. Though he surprisingly has a sense of humor in “The LEGO Movie,” a high concentration of his roles represents pretty much the same character: aggressive loner “with a certain skill set.” “Taken” might have finally sold him to American mainstream audiences, but every role is Bryan Mills minus personality; “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is just the latest version and the fourth awful Neeson movie of the year (following “Non-Stop,” “Third Person,” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West”).
After an accident while drunk, Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) left the police force. Now a private detective years later in 1999 (weird emphasis is placed on the Y2K fear but doesn’t add to the story), Matt is approached by a fellow A.A. member (Eric Nelsen) asking him to assist his drug trafficker brother Kenny (Dan Stevens) after his wife was kidnapped and brutally murdered. Matt’s investigation finds multiple abducted, murdered women along with an assistant: homeless teen TJ (Astro), a main character completely left out of all marketing for the film. What follows is a cliché thriller in which Matt acts as a liaison between another drug dealer and the kidnappers, eventually faces the murderers while Kenny wants revenge, and excessive violence ensues.
From the hit-or-miss-screenwriter-turned-director Scott Frank (directed “The Lookout,” a terrible, terrible movie), “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is a cheap thriller based on a book in a series by Lawrence Block. Marketed to look like “Taken 3” (since Neeson only sells when a badass) but missing action until the climax, the movie relies on cheesy suspense at its finale to inject adrenaline into its last minutes; the almost tolerable thriller becomes a mock horror movie.
Though the storyline goes all over the place with a random appearance by the D.E.A. to secret porn rooms and pigeon obsessions, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” manages to maintain a rapid pace to hold the audience’s interest. Unfortunately, any praise the film could earn is thrown out when it reaches its final twenty or thirty minutes. The ending triumphs at over-the-top and ridiculous while the villains become absurd caricature monsters (they began as maliciously cold and methodical yet are incompetently novice and flat). This farce of a thriller lacks any redemption to earn a recommendation.
Rating for “A Walk Among the Tombstones:” D-
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“A Walk Among the Tombstones” is playing across Columbus, including Gateway and AMC Easton. For showtimes, click here.