At this point should we just consider every Liam Neeson movie a sequel? Liam Neeson 14: The One With the Drug Dealers”
“A Walk Among the Tombstones” is the latest Liam Neeson flick to take advantage of his rising reputation as the go to actor for the no nonsense, flawed hero with a particular set of skills. This time the skills are in detective work as he finds himself in late 90s Brooklyn chasing down serial kidnappers who are targeting drug dealers’ families. As the story progresses we get a clearer look at the depravity of these men, and exactly what it might take to stop them. If it sounds like a somewhat typical noir detective thriller, well you wouldn’t be far off, but the good news is Liam Neeson is made for this stuff.
And he takes on this role with fervor. Well, Liam Neeson fervor at least, which looks about the same as Liam Neeson reading a newspaper, or Liam Neeson eating breakfast. But it’s exactly that kind of nonchalance that makes these roles work and this one is no different. Watching him saunter his way through this plot and take control of the people around him is pretty compelling just in itself. Of course it helps that he has some pretty good character acting going on around him as well. Both the main drug dealer he helps and the eventually street kid who becomes his sidekick do great work here to bolster the movies credibility. Not to mention the guys they are after take the creep factor to a level that I’m not sure I’ve seen in a while.
Strangely though, this is where the movie starts to fall apart for me. The depravity of the evil in it is just a bit too over the top and honestly sickening. It would be one thing if I felt like the movie needed it to make it’s point, or that I could see how it was necessary to our understanding of the characters, but this just felt gratuitous in the truest sense of the word, as if you could tell the storytellers didn’t need it, but wanted it there to shock the audience. It just felt unnecessary and for me distracted from the parts of the movie that were more engaging, (ie the parts where Liam Neeson was being Liam Neeson). When you add to that the fact that the underlying mystery behind the story wasn’t all that interesting or engaging on it’s own it made the whole affair feel like it could have been much tighter and lighter. Plus, I found myself constantly distracted by the 1999 Y2K references and these phones they apparently had on the streets back in the day that you put quarters into to talk. When did 1999 become ancient history? I’m so old.
At the end of the day, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” is a fine Liam Neeson performance mired in a dark and demented tale. Though I enjoyed many of the performances, I was never able to connect to the story enough to bring this beyond a straight C