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A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014) bad movie
USA, 114 min, Rated 14A (ON) 13+ (QC)
Reviewed 09/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca
www.ofrb.gov.on.ca | www.rcq.gouv.qc.ca

Scott Frank - Director/Screenplay
Mihai Malaimare Jr. - Cinematography


"A Walk among the Tombstones stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. When Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and then brutally murdered his wife, the PI learns that this is not the first time these men have committed this sort of twisted crime… nor will it be the last." - awalkamongthetombstones.net


Liam Neeson stars as New York-based ex-cop and recovering alcoholic turned unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder in this spectacularly plodding P.I. procedural set in the late 1990s from Oscar-nominated screenwriter and debuting director Scott Frank. A Walk Among the Tombstones also features Brian 'Astro' Bradley and David Harbour, as Scudder's unofficial teen sidekick TJ, and smug psychopath Ray, respectively.

Pulled from the pages of pulp novelist Lawrence Block's gritty and unflinching same-named urban thriller, A Walk Among the Tombstones drops an uneasy Scudder into an unraveling and escalating psychological game of cat and mouse against a duo of brash serial thrill-killers who kidnapped for ransom and then butchered the wife of vengeful local drug dealer Kenny Kristo (played by Dan Stevens). Scudder soon learns these psychos are using DEA criminal files to cherry pick their victims, and that time is running out before they strike again.

Acclaimed American crime fiction writer Lawrence Block's long-running Matthew Scudder series began in 1976 with The Sins of the Fathers. Block's honours include four Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards for Best Short Story and his ninth Matthew Scudder novel, A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, won an Edgar for Best Novel in 1992. Published that same year, A Walk Among the Tombstones is reportedly Block's 10th of 18 Scudder potboilers so far.

I had high hopes for this screening. Harrison Ford was apparently cast as Scudder early on, but then Neeson stepped in as pretty much Hollywood's only other obvious shoe-in for playing this fractured and precariously moral aged gumshoe scraping lowlifes off the mean streets of New York City. I expected a kind of Death Wish (1974) redux refined by an author whose fans compared to Raymond Chandler. Plus, loaded up with a ready-made canon of well-received source material to cull from for further film adaptations, A Walk Among the Tombstones looked from the outside like the start of a beautiful franchise. Something to look forward to. Finally. Silly me.

Unfortunately, writer/director Scott Frank's interpretation plays out more like a clichéd prime time manhunt from a bygone era. Neeson's performance is wooden and uncompelling, essentially phoning in a foul-mouthed Robert Mitchum impersonation while relying more on screen caché than anything provided by the script. A Walk Among the Tombstones also tries far too hard to be edgy within the context of emulating '90s crime dramas starring the likes of Brian Cox or Steven Seagal. Quaint and cheesy, it's a filmmaking direction that ultimately wanders completely out of step with a contemporary movie audience accustomed to sharper pacing and fresher plot choices from this noir genre.

On the up-side, Frank makes clever use of cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr.'s technical skills in capturing shorthand glimpses of character nuance throughout. One example stylishly demonstrates Scudder's unspoken torment. Another visually reveals how devoid of empathy these killers are - even to each other. It's also fun reliving now-goofy aspects of the last millennium’s final year, such as the Y2K scare and TJ's street slang. Sadly, those novelties aren't enough to sustain interest in the over-all uninvested, talent-wasting performances from this cast that are further bogged down by scenes of dull and dated suspense. Even the gory stuff is boring.

It's truly a punch to the gut that A Walk Among the Tombstones is such a butt-dragging big sleep of misfired potential. Yes, Neeson has starred in a lot of entertaining tough guy movies lately but this ain't one of 'em. Do yourself a favour and duck this dud. Reviewed 09/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is rated 14A by the Ontario Film Review Board, citing occasional gory/grotesque images, coarse language, slurs, sexual references, nudity in a non-sexual context, illustrated or verbal references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, occasional upsetting or disturbing scenes, substance abuse, sexual innuendo, and violent acts shown in clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood and tissue damage, and is rated 13+ by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.

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showtimes: http://www.google.ca/movies?near=kanata-ottawa&hl=en&view=map&date=0


Website: http://www.awalkamongthetombstones.net/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTKBowDjMQg
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365907/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Walk_Among_the_Tombstones_(film)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WalkAmongTheTombstones
Plus: http://www.lawrenceblock.com/

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