We now live in a world where I would rather see Liam Neeson in an action movie than Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone or any action star from my youth. As these actors get older it’s kind of sad watching them grasp desperately to a genre that just doesn’t need them. Then there is Neeson. Always a great actor and one that I have loved since Sam Raimi’s masterpiece (yeah I said it! I got a soft spot for it) Darkman. For whatever reason it would take over decade before Neeson returned to ass kicking greatness with Taken. Taken introduced the world to Liam Neeson the badass and we have never looked back. . So, when I saw the trailer for yet another movie involving Neeson threatening wrong doers over a phone, I just threw my money at the screen. Could Walk Among the Tombstones keep Neeson a float as America’s ass kicker? Hell yeah it could…just not the way I thought it would.
Matt Scrudder (Liam Neeson) is a retired cop and recovering alcoholic working as a private detective in New York City in 1999. Scrudder spends his days eating at a local diner, attending AA meetings and being all sorts of deep and introverted. He pays the rent working as an unlicensed private eye and begins ( begrudgingly) looking into a kidnapping gone wrong case at the request of fellow AA member/junkie Howie. Kenny (Dan Stevens) is a drug trafficker whose wife was abducted and held for ransom. Scrudder quickly falls down the rabbit hole and enters a world (that feels like it’s part of Schumaker’s 8mm sans Nic Cage) filled with underground porn traders, wisecracking street kids, drug traffickers and two of the most unsettling antagonists on-screen in years. David Harbor plays, Ray, the lead villian (more of the mouth piece) and whenever he spoke an icy chill followed. A man who revels in the brutality and torment he spreads around. A strong contender for villain of the year.
AWAT is not Taken. That has to be said. Going into this movie thinking you are getting another Taken rip off will leave you disappointed. Scrudder is the type of badass that prefers to talk his way out of a tough situation instead of snapping necks. In a way this far more satisfying to watch. Neeson plays Scrudder with a calm, no bullshit approach. He’s a man who has nothing left to lose, but that doesn’t mean he has a death wish. Just helps put things in perspective. It’s great to see Neeson flex his acting muscle over his action muscle. Much like his turn in The Grey (a movie that made appreciate life in a whole new light and also how to fight wolves with broken booze bottles…), it’s more than just being a badass who can take out everyone in the room. It’s knowing that he can and choosing not that really makes Scrudder that much more cooler. That right there is some Bruce Lee level of awesome.
More of a tight thriller thick with atmosphere, A Walk Among the Tombstones is one of Neeson’s best movies to date. Seeing Neeson in a trench coat and spouting threats at lowlifes is enough to get anyone’s blood pumping. As if I needed another excuse to move to NYC, become a retired cop with a drinking problem and then solve crimes for a living… What!?! A man can dream can’t he?