Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour
Director: Scott Frank
Running Time: 114 mins
A Walk Among The Tombstones is an American film about a private detective who is hired by a drug trafficker to find out who kidnapped his wife.
Although it may look like it on the outside, A Walk Among The Tombstones isn’t quite the typical Liam Neeson movie, proving to be more of a dark drama with many film-noir references and homages than a big and loud action movie. However, that doesn’t actually work out in the film’s favour, instead proving to be a fairly dull and overly dark film that just doesn’t have the dramatic depth to really captivate you.
However, that doesn’t mean that the film is completely awful. Above all, the lead performance from Liam Neeson is just as good as he always is. With the same level of gruff as his starring role in Taken, as well as his impressive ability to carry across his characters’ exhaustion and deeper frustrations, he’s great to watch throughout, and easily stands out as the best part of the whole film.
Secondly, I liked the fact that this film paid some good tributes to classic film-noir crime dramas. While it’s nowhere near as intelligent and stylish as it thinks it is, and definitely doesn’t live up to the classics, I was glad to see that the film was trying to forge a different identity to modern crime thrillers, aiming for something a little slower and more atmospheric than the typical crash-bang action of the present.
Despite all that, however, A Walk Among The Tombstones still isn’t a great film. There’s a lot that makes it a rather dull watch, but for me, the film’s atmosphere was easily the biggest problem. Although I admire the intention in mimicking classic film-noirs, with countless references to the likes of The Maltese Falcon, the way that director Scott Frank brings that atmosphere across just doesn’t work.
Rather than having the same slick feel as the classic film-noir dramas, this film is nothing more than a dark and dour affair, mistaking the moody atmosphere of the golden oldies for nothing more than simple darkness. As a result, the whole film, both in its visuals and atmosphere, is a rather dull and excessively dark affair, consistently taking away from the potential excitement and tension that could have been built in the story.
Also, the plot here isn’t as intelligent or interesting as the movie thinks it is. While there are a lot of twists and turns throughout, the story is unfortunately a little too predictable, with some of the biggest surprises feeling too obvious right from the start. There are moments of intrigue, and I wasn’t totally bored by the plot, but because it was so predictable so often, and failed to offer a genuinely exciting or simply mysterious series of events, it made the whole film a lot harder to be captivated by, and as such just didn’t ever manage to hold my attention at any point.
Overall, I was disappointed by A Walk Among The Tombstones. It’s not a film that’s completely lacking in positives, thanks to a good lead performance from Liam Neeson, as well as an ambitious (albeit ultimately ineffective) attempt to pay tribute to film-noir, however the poor delivery of its atmosphere and a rather dull and predictable plot both render the film far less engrossing than should have been the case, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.4.