Taken, Unknown, The Grey, Taken 2, Non-Stop. Just when you thought Liam Neeson was being typecast as the grizzled old man who is still a bad-ass… SURPRISE! A Walk Among The Tombstones.
Film starts with Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) necking a single measure followed by a freshly brewed mug of coffee. Buckshot ruptures the silence as the cafe owner eats lead. A startled Scudder swaggers into action. Taking cover behind the door he sends two of the perps to meet their maker. The last of the trio makes a break for it only to have a .45 round tear through his leg shortly followed by another piercing somewhere more vital with Scudder casually on-looking. Neeson is a one man army again I see.
Oh well, it’ll be enjoyable enough I guess. We rejoin Scudder about 8 years later in 1998 where an old aquaintence has asked him to help his brother find the men who kidnapped, murdered and dismembered his wife. As Scudder picks up the trail it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn’t have a very particular set of skills that will help him out. Scudder doesn’t have a cellphone, he doesn’t know how to use the internet and barely knows how to use a computer. It’s actually a really nice change to Neeson’s more recent action films.
In order for him to piece everything together he has to go about things the old fashioned way using skills he has acquired over a very long career; skills such as tailing people and crawling through public library records for newspaper clippings.
It’s whilst he is searching through the old newspapers that he finds his new partner, a 16 year old orphan boy called TJ (Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley), which is short for err…. TJ. It’s a bizarre pairing but it kind of works, or does it? I can’t quite tell. On the one hand TJ is the Yin to Scudder’s Yang as TJ helps Scudder navigate through new technology and conversely Scudder becomes the father that TJ had. It’s a relationship that is honest and at times quite touching.
I actually really liked TJ as a character, he is confident and clever but oft flippant. I’m really glad that he stays as a support role because if he had played a big part in the finale then it would have ruined the films credibility. Being used a secondary tail, an information source or a gofer is just about the right amount of co-operation needed.
The flip side of this odd partnership is that it takes time away from fleshing out Scudder as our main protagonist. Who is he? What makes him tick? It also takes time away from explaining how all the leads point to our bad guys, which conveniently leads me to my next point; the bad guys.
Apart from being genuinely horrific people, and trust me they are truly heinous, the worst part is that you wouldn’t be able to pick them out of a line up. I’m sure you knew people in school that were quiet and kept themselves to themselves but deep down, at the back of your mind, you thought yeah, I’d vote for them if there is ever a ‘most likely to end up going on a murderous rampage’ award. These guys are exactly that.
Unfortunately, the trailer for this film ruins one of its most powerful and shocking scenes where our third accomplice walks off the edge of a building. That’s not the worst aspect of the film in my book though. Scudder finds out who the two murderers are by linking them to a number of similar crimes. The way that the crimes are linked aren’t properly explained… or rather they are but it’s explained in scenes that appear to be less important and I obviously didn’t pay enough attention because I left the screening with many questions about the over-arching plot.
Still the film ends well. It’s shot at night and in the rain so you get a really overbearing feeling which keeps you on the edge of your seat and keeps you guessing who will live and who will die. It’s also one of the rare moments of action throughout the whole film. Overall it’s a good watch that could have done with some extra plot focus and contradicting my previous ramblings; a bit more of Neeson being a bad-ass wouldn’t go a miss – just not too much.
- Terrifying enemies
- Oppressive ending scene
- If you are expecting Taken 3
- Plot threads are sometimes hard to follow
- Some awkward acting by the support cast.