Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
Get the Poster
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Eric Nelsen, Brian 'Astro' Bradley
Written by: Scott Frank, based on a novel by Lawrence Block
Directed by: Scott Frank
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, disturbing images, language and brief nudity
Running Time: 113
Date: 09/19/2014

A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Private Guys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Screenwriter Scott Frank has made a career of adapting crime novels and thrillers by Elmore Leonard, Philip K. Dick, and James Lee Burke to the screen. He wrote an excellent original thriller, and made his directorial debut, with The Lookout, and now A Walk Among the Tombstones, adapted from a Lawrence Block novel, is his follow-up. Like a good crime novelist, Frank doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the genre, but he gives it a fresh presentation, telling the story with enthusiasm and skill.

Eight years ago New York cop Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) was drunk during a robbery and the subsequent chase, and it changed him forever. In 1999, he now operates as an unlicensed private detective. A drug dealer (Dan Stevens) hires him to find the men who kidnapped his wife; even though he paid the ransom, they killed her. Scudder hits the street and begins looking for clues. A homeless kid, T.J. (Brian 'Astro' Bradley) occasionally helps. Before long Scudder discovers that these kidnappers have a specific M.O. -- targeting victims with ready cash who won't call the cops -- and that they have done this at least once before. Unfortunately, they have struck again, kidnapping a 14 year-old girl, and time is running out.

Frank captures a fine, big city feel with grungy shops and stairwells, as well as luckier, fancier places. Characters flit in and out of the story with the sense that they have lived lives here. Even the standard "cute kid" character (Brian 'Astro' Bradley) is handled as if it were an everyday occurrence. Set in 1999, the story includes references to the paranoia of the Y2K computer "virus." The overall sense of dread and rage is strong, even if the movie is too long to be terribly suspenseful.

Note: The Scudder character has only appeared on film once before, played by Jeff Bridges in Hal Ashby's 8 Million Ways to Die (1986), which had a screenplay by Oliver Stone.

Hulu Castle Rock SVOD