1991 New York City Police officer Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) is caught up in an armed robbery gone wrong while at a bar off duty, a firefight ensues across the streets outside where Scudder guns down the would be thieves. 1999 we find Scudder now retired and recovering alcoholic working as a private eye, doing “favours” for people who sometimes give him “gifts”. Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook ) approaches Scudder on behalf of his brother Kenny(Dan Stevens ) who asks him to find the men who kidnapped and murdered his wife. Befriending a young homeless boy TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley) in a library while investigating past murders that fit the same profile murder Scudder is lead down a dark and dangerous path of two perverted psychopaths Ray and Albert (David Harbour and Adam David Thompson) who are responsible for the murder of least two other women. When a third kidnapping occurs this time a young girl Scudder will do anything to make sure she is returned alive.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was only a 15 certificate movie, the subject matter heads down a very dark and disturbing path which had me feeling extremely tense until I remembered the content wouldn’t cross a line that I personally couldn’t happen. Its unsettling and disturbing scenes are pushed harder by what’s not shown, and there were some genuine moments where I was right on the edge of my seat. The tension is balanced with the moments of comedic levity which doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the overall story. It is in essence a great balance of crime thriller with mystery and intrigue and some kick ass gun fighting. The movie reveals itself right along with Scudder’s investigations with Neeson holing the screen time well and in many cases without much need for dialogue. It takes its time but doesn’t feel drawn out which is high praise for a 2 hour plus movie of this genre.
Why did I chose this movie? I fancied a little Liam Neeson kick ass action but the movie follows more of a mystery crime thriller than the all-out shoot-em up that I thought it was and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Keith and Alan joined me at the Movie House Cinema none of us knowing what to expect apart from Liam Neeson kicking ass. The plot is strong, the acting is solid and the pace though a little jumpy moves well and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It is based on the novel A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block which I want to pick up now and give a read. It’s an extremely intense highly satisfying physiological crime thriller that is Nasty, brutal and unforgiving, well worth watching and is among Liam Neeson’s better works to date.