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A hunt for serial killers on the rampage

Reviewed by Bakang Israel,Movie: A Walk Among The Tombstones, Genre: Action, Crime, Mystery, Age Restriction: 16, Release Date: October 31, 2014, Director: Scott Frank, Main Cast: Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, Dan Stevens (Kristo), David Harbour (Ray) and Maurice Compte (Danny Ortiz)

As it is often said about wine, the older it gets the better it tastes there seems to be such actors who are also getting better as they age.  Such notable examples are Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington as well as Liam Neeson.

All these actors are naturally gifted such that with every movie they partake in it is destined for box office success.

Morgan Freeman gave us Lucy back in August, which smashed the charts, whilst Denzel Washington’s Equaliser is enjoying huge reception at cinemas locally being on its 7th week on circuit.  It was released on September 26, 2014.

Neeson is a renowned award-winning Irish actor.  He is back on the big screen as a protagonist caught up in a web of hostage situations and kidnappings, he has played such similar roles in the Taken films and another 2014 smash hit Non Stop.

A Walk Among The Tombstones (AWAT in short) is Neeson’s latest thriller offering.  It is an American crime thriller film based on a novel by Lawrence Block of the same name, directed and written by Scott Frank renowned for his screenplay writing skills for movies like Marvel franchise The Wolverine and comedy Marley and Me though he gained prominence for winning best writer award for the movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise in 2002.

In this mystery crime thriller Neeson portrays the role of Matt Scudder who is a retired cop now turned into a private investigator.

Co-starring alongside Neeson in the film are supporting actors Dan Stevens and David Harbour who play the characters of Kristo and Ray, the villains who terrorise people and give Scudder a headache with psychopathic killings.

After watching the movie, there were mixed reactions from movie enthusiasts who had thronged Game City theatres to sooth their action cravings from the evergreen action figure Liam Neeson.

Firstly the film has an explosive trailer, however the same cannot be attributed for the main dish or the actual movie experience.

The movie kicks off on a high note in a cowboy/western fashion with Scudder shooting robbers in an attempted store robbery.

This introduces us to Neeson’s character and sets the expectations of the movie much high from that great piece of action, however, the film then slows down loosing vigour up until towards the end as director Frank tried to add the mystery element which in return spoiled the action and thriller moments in the film.

The film has an interesting storyline adapted from a book under which events unfold in this manner “An ex-NYPD cop and recovering alcoholic haunted by regrets, operating as an unlicensed private detective Matt Scudder has a lot to make up for.

When a series of kidnappings targeting the wives

of drug dealers escalates to grisly murders, Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker Maurice Compte (Danny Ortiz) to hunt his wife’s murders down and bring them to bloody justice”.

A Walk Among The Tombstones has all the right ingredients to make a blockbuster but writer and director Frank failed to produce an interesting screenplay.  Though the film is a book adaptation the director could have adjusted the story a bit to make the film flashy because most of the film was consumed by Neeson walking around putting pieces of the puzzle together.

If you pay attention closely one would realise that this film is a bit similar to recent box office hit Equaliser starring Washington, but figures reflect that AWAT is not as vibrant as the former due to the plot execution, which is not that engaging.

In addition to that, with regard to the look and feel of the film AWAT is more like a dramatic mysterious crime film rather than an action crime mystery film because it had limited action moments. There are a few action moments most notably the attempted store robbery shootout at the beginning of the film as well as the bloody basement fight between Scudder and the psychopathic butcherman Kristo.  The film has rather dull cinematography.

One may also allude to the fact this movie is way too mellow, as even the druglords in this movie are way too soft, unlike in most films where drug kingpins add up that extra vicious aggression twist to a movie and always bring out that nail-biting thrill.

Frank failed to implement that as Maurice Compte (Danny Ortiz) was not that convincing as a drug lord.

The box office reception derived from theatre sales indicates that serial killers from A Walk Among The Tombstones failed to smash the charts. Though the movie had a sensational box office premiere, debuting at number two on its opening weekend and earning an amazing $13.1 million dollars behind then number one The Maze Runner.

The movie fell short of excitement, and for a film which was shot from a budget of $28 million dollars yet so far since its release on September 19 it has only raked in less than an impressive $49.2 million dollars looking at what other hugely anticipated movies of 2014 have achieved.

AWAT is on its second week in Botswana having premiered on October 31. After this viewing experience and effort from Frank and Neeson, it is fitting to award this film with a 5/10 rating simply because the director could have done better rather than denying big screen lovers mouthwatering action from such a high profile action figure as Neeson.




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