With another novel-to-film adaptation, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” brings one of famed crime detective/mystery author Lawrence Block’s books to the big screen yet again.
Mathew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is a retired ex-cop and a recovering alcoholic eight years sober.
In his down time, he is a “licensed” private detective and as Scudder puts it, “I do favors for people and they give me gifts.”
During his AA meetings, he meets a drug addict Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook), who comes to Scudder asking for help. It’s then that he meets Kristo’s brother, Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) who is a drug trafficker.
Kenny’s wife is kidnapped and he is asked not to contact the police in order for her to stay alive. After paying the ransom they demanded, the kidnappers return Kenny’s wife to him but unfortunately, they return her in pieces in the trunk of an abandoned car along with a recording of her demise.
During his search for the gore-loving killers, he stumbles upon an unlikely friendship with an African-American homeless teen, TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley), who helps him connect the case to other murders. TJ offers some comedic relief to the heaviness of the grotesque subject matter, which allows your heart to travel back up from your stomach, even it’s only for a little while.
It’s apparent throughout the film that director Scott Frank and the author of the crime series love the human psyche. Frank successfully shoots eerie scenes where the killers are doing everyday things like eating breakfast and whistling, all after re-painting their makeshift chop house van.
The killers, played brilliantly by David Harbour and Adam David Thompson, give off just enough crazy without going overboard. Although their gory actions are the result of their greed, the killers enjoy dismembering their female victims with a creepy, carnal satisfaction.
Just one smile and a few soft spoken words from the two could make anyone’s skin crawl.
Although Neeson’s brooding, tough role of Matthew Scudder doesn’t stray too far from his role of Bryan Mills in “Taken,” his emotional performance as Scudder is much more believable and enjoyable when it comes to playing a tormented, middle-aged action hero.
As long as you’re not squeamish, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is a great psycho crime thriller to see and well worth its two hour run time.