I admit to having been afraid that this was yet another one of Liam Neeson’s action vehicles. I’m glad I was wrong.
I don’t tend to watch a lot of crime/thriller films, but I was a big fan of mystery novels. I can definitely see and feel the appeal behind a well-crafted thriller film like Gone Girl (which I haven’t actually watched). A Walk Among The Tombstones is also an adaptation of a crime novel, so I suppose the decent (if cliché) plot is probably best credited to the author rather than the scriptwriters and the director.
But beyond the plot, which takes on a somewhat typical flow of a crime novel, it was a film that really managed to build the suspense without being overt about it. It had the feel of a good mystery novel, one that keeps revealing tantalising bits of information to you, keeping you guessing, keeping you thinking. Other than a single scene, the soundtrack always maintained a suitable mood that kept the viewer in a state of mild tension, just like reading a good crime thriller.
I loved how they kept the conversations to a minimum, without really pushing too much exposition that made things awkward. I loved the way the director managed to integrate scenes of the killers without breaking the flow of the film, or wiping out the suspense that was built up with the investigations. I loved how there was no crazy fight scene at the end, keeping the entire film grounded.
I felt like TJ was a bit too obvious as a plot device, but that may be down to the book and its author rather than the film itself. I didn’t think much of the opening scene that teased Matt Scudder’s past either, but it didn’t drag too long. It was also a pretty predictable film overall, but that’s just how the genre works. Not everyone can spring a surprise the way Agatha Christie does in all of her books.
Finally, it’s great to see Liam Neeson doing something dramatic after his stint as the old-man-action-star. He fitted into the role of Scudder so well, and looked far more comfortable doing so than in those scarcely believable stints as Bryan Mills in the Taken trilogy. He brings about a quiet intensity to his roles, a feeling of being weary yet steadfast that makes dramatic characters a good fit for him in my opinion.
This isn’t a film that’ll win awards or hearts. But it’s a good film, and that’s enough for me.