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Film review: A Walk Among The Tombstones

What can you say about a film that so swears about its cerebralism as to discuss sickle cell anaemia at some length, and then picturises a disturbing sequence of a 14-year-old being admired by two sexual predators against an astonishingly and unironically sunny number?

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi | Published: September 19, 2014 6:07:28 pm
A Walk Among The Tombstones review. A Walk Among The Tombstones review.

Starring Liam Neeson, Maurice Compte, Brian Astro Bradley
Directed by Scott Frank
Stars 2

What can you say about a film that so swears about its cerebralism as to discuss sickle cell anaemia at some length, and then picturises a disturbing sequence of a 14-year-old being admired by two sexual predators against an astonishingly and unironically sunny number? In fact, while A Walk Among The Tombstones is essentially about a jaded cop turned private detective hunting down those two predators, a lot of its energy is devoted to portraying the sadistic torture these woman face in some artistic light.

If not anything else, one woman among the two who ends up being chopped into pieces turns up at regular interval in nude paintings.

Neeson is perfect as the haunted ex-cop who had a drinking problem who now strikes a friendship with a homeless Black boy (Bradley), even as tracking down killers single-handedly armed with little else than a roomy overcoat. But few of the other actors make any impact at all, particularly the stereotypical homeless kid Bradley.

Plus, as said earlier, the film, based on a novel by crime writer Lawrence Block, can’t quite decide the tone it wants to set for itself. So it veers from some very effective scenes such as the one with a one-time accomplice of the two killers on a rooftop, to some very laboured ones as those in the hospital where sickle cell anaemia comes up, to some very unnecessary ones as a monologue at the end with the final shootout.

We know little about the two killers at the end of the film, though another of those careless throwaway scenes has one of them walking around in an underwear around the other.

And while Neeson’s Matt Scudder hints at a family, there is no hint of any, and no explanation for why that might be the case.

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