Thursday, September 25, 2014

"A Walk Among the Tombstones": Liam Neeson shows how to love the sinner

The previews of “A Walk Among the Tombstones” had make the film look almost supernatural, with the shot of a man jumping off a roof (like in “The Leftovers”).  It turns out to be a conventional but graphic drug underworld crime thriller, most of it set in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn in 1999 (well before Hurricane Sandy).  That’s two movies about the drug world in Brooklyn in a week (“The Drop” was reviewed recently) I don’t think that’s how Brooklyn really is.  Bed-Sty, to the north, is coming back.
Liam Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a “really private detective” who is unlicensed and works outside of the law, but is the only kind of agent who can get some things done.  Isn’t that how it is?  After a 1991 prologue, the movie opens with a meeting with a nice-looking drug kingpin Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens) in his artsy brownstone.  Pretending to be a legitimate artist and actor, he makes his real living as a drug dealer (which is a rather cynical idea).  He confronts Neeson with the fact that his wife was kidnapped, and apparently murdered even though he paid the ransom.  (“Never pay ransom” has become an edgy debate in the issue of international terrorism.)  Scudder reluctantly eventually takes the job, and hires a homeless minor African American kid TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley) as a sidekick, after meeting him in a public library.  Set before 2000, the film shows use of microfilm, clunky cell phones, and evidence of the coming Y2K scare.
Gradually, Neeson finds a pattern with several other cases, as all the victims are wives of other kingpins.  A brutal sequence in a cemetery near the end of
The official site is here.  The tagline is “People are afraid of all the wrong things”.  Well, these people asked for it.  They got into this world.  That’s not the same as the crimes some international groups have threatened.  The film is directed by Scott Frank and based on a novel by Lawrence Block. 
Universal is the US distributor, but Exclusive Media, usually a distributor of verturesome indie dramas, is a production company.  Cross Creek is another production company and it has a nice trademark with a running model train.
I saw this on a big screen (essentially RPX) at Regal Ballston common.  

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