By Darin Skaggs
And so continues the rejuvenated career of Liam Neeson as an action star who can kick butt and will probably have a revelation around the same time with Scott Frank’s A Walk Among the Tombstones. The big mistake in most of Neeson’s recent ventures is the expectations especially from the marketing of the films. In all the trailers for Neeson’s films it seems Neeson will defy the laws of physics to save the day and be the ultimate hero, but that happens only about half the time with films like Non-Stop or the Taken series. Others are more down to earth and serious like The Grey and now, A Walk Among the Tombstones.
Neeson plays a retired cop, now private investigator, Matt Scudder who is contacted by Kenny Kristo played by Dan Stevens. Kenny tells about the grim tale of a couple of bad men who kidnapped and murdered his wife and Kenny wants Scudder on the job which may turn into his biggest case yet. Along the way we learn why Scudder stepped down from the force and how it affects his every move from that day on.
In Taken, Liam Neeson plays a tough as nails secret agent that has the upper hand physically and mentally despite being double the age of most of his attackers. This has been the basic plotlines of most of his work since or at least that is what the trailers give off. In Non-Stop it is pretty much just Taken on a plane. Others are just meditation on some part of life, The Grey meditates on what it even means to be alive hidden in a silly movie about surviving the cold and a pack of wolves. Tombstones falls into the meditation category, this one wondering what is worth fearing and what should be thrown right over your shoulder. It takes place right before Y2K was supposed to happen. A character says “Some people are scared of all the wrong things” which seems to be the case for everyone except Scudder who learned how cruel the world can be when a bullet hit a young girl when he was in pursuit of three men who robbed a cash register.
Neeson, as usual, has a fun performance and this makes for one of his better movies. It is pretty dark and serious, it is not a crazy fun action film, but makes for a better meditation on the use of violence.