Thank goodness for Liam Neeson Crimeziners. If you’ve got kidnapped female relatives, he is definitely the one to call. Let’s face it, he is so introspectively crumpled and Liam Neesonish there isn’t a felonious spouse-snatcher, or kiddy-bothering ransom merchant anywhere who can match his patented soft-Irish charm and “troubled-look-to-camera thoughtfulness”.
How appropriate then, that Neeson should take the lead as the Crimetastic Mathew Scudder in Walk Among the Tombstones the latest cinematic interpretation of Crime legend Lawrence Block’s grand oeuvre. Many with better memories than Crimezines cognac addled collective consciousness will be just about able to recall the 1986 Scudder movie 8 Million Ways to Die, starring Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette. Apparently this cinematic marvel barely made enough buckeroos to cover the bar bill.
It is perhaps no surprise then, that Scott Frank, screen writing genius behind Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty, Out of Sight and [cof] Marley and Me, reckons it took ten long years to get this movie made. That’s a lot of Hollyweird spritzer brunches, and air-kissing focus groups for one man to endure. But Crimezine commends his tenacity. Mr. Frank is a strong advocate of adult-orientated crime movies that don’t involve superhero costumes. But, he reckons that the time is now past when such movies can be made with the frequency they once were. He even doubts that a movie like Get Shorty could be made in today’s movie making climate. Those that do make it are the exception he says.
With this in mind, Crimezine was eager to take a walk amongst the aforementioned tombstones. With the forces of righteousness on its side—surely this move will be unable to fail? Welllll. Nesson is awesome as Scudder and the movie gets off to a rip-roaring start, examining his back-story motivation. The power of the Scudder books is brought to life in an admirable way, incorporating the former detectives boozehound past and twelve-steps present. And Brian “Astro” Bradley is adorable as Scudder acolyte TJ. Expectations run high and one just can’t help but get a thrill of pleasure when Neeson growls the classic Scudder line, “I do favors for friends”.
But then we meet the supporting cast. None of whom are bad per se—but there are no stand out performances whatsoever and the remainder of the movie unwinds like a low-budget teleplay. Grungy nastiness abounds, as does questionable motivation, grisly mutilation and industrial strength misogyny from two limply thuggish kidnappers—who appear to be recent overacting graduates from the Hollyweird Academy of bad guys. It is all very disturbing, but not for the right reasons. Scott Frank thinks TV is the new home for ambitious screenwriters. Seeing this movie one can perhaps understand why.
Crimezine wholeheartedly recommends the outstanding Scudder novels by Lawrence Block. Start with the first: The Sins of the Fathers (1976). Contact Lawrence and buy his books at: http://lawrenceblock.com/