In Memory of Liam Neeson’s career – ★★
Bill Hicks opened one of his stand up shows by proclaiming “I’ve been on the road doing comedy for ten years now, so bear with me while I plaster on a fake smile and plough through this shit one more time”. For Liam Neeson it isn’t a fake smile, more so a constipated grimace. And unfortunately there isn’t nearly the same level of satisfaction as passing a difficult stool by the time the credits roll.
Matt Scudder (Neeson) is a recovering alcoholic who works as an unlicensed private detective. He used to be a cop but while drinking on the job he messed up and couldn’t handle the consequences. Keeny, a local drug dealer (Dan Stevens), hires his services to try and find out who killed his wife. This is the wife we saw getting raped over the opening credits. Not too interested at first, once he learns of the levels of depravity involved in the case Scudder can’t sit idly by and do nothing.
Tombstones reeks of sleaze; it’s a grimy, dirty, dank and macho. The murders and treatment of women are grim, leering and exploitative. There is some nonsense theory of crazed murderers trying to bring drug dealers to task, but really it’s just men who like torturing women. This makes the film incredibly empty as all the characters are one-dimensional stereotypes.
Neeson stumbles through making his marks and staring his stares. He picks up a black street kid (TJ) with smarts and plenty of moxy but is really just in need of a father figure, yawn, oh and he draws comics. Stevens has a gangster accent from the 30s, perhaps meaning his brilliant turn in The Guest may have been a fluke. The running time is nearly two hours which is impressive for a film that has nothing to say and is, at its core, a pulpy exploitation movie.
It will appeal to some fans of the genre or those who are hoping to discover the new Taken. David Harbour puts in a convincing performance as a disgusting human being but really there is nothing new or revelatory about the film meaning it’ll probably fade into the background like an unloved grave.
A Walk Among The Tombstones is released nationwide on Friday the 19th of September