Saturday, September 19, 2015

3 Short Paragraphs: A Walk Among the Tombstones

2014, Scott Frank (writer The Wolverine, Get Shorty) -- netflix

Will Liam Neeson ever step out from the shadow of Taken? Does he even care to? He's 63 this year, so the idea of playing as many action star type roles is probably appealing, before he is relegated to only the Old Man roles. Since becoming the guy with a specific set of skills, people accept him as the quiet, stable man capable of great violence, and that lends itself to crime fiction. This one, based on the novel by Lawrence Block, is the kind of middle of the road work, more an enhanced TV episode than striking motion picture, but it was solid and I enjoyed it.

Scudder is an ex-cop from the 90s, with the short trench and goatee back then, ex because he was involved in the shooting of three would-be armed robbers who shot the owner of his favourite bar. He was drunk at the time, angry in his retribution and careless in his response. He is now a recovering alcoholic working the unlicensed private eye job, doing jobs for people, looking much as we just plain Neeson. That day long ago haunts him, but not for the reasons we think.

The snapshot on one instant of his life, that we have as the plot of the movie, is where he is approached by a local drug lord whose wife has been kidnapped. The drug lord cannot go to the cops, of course.  Scudder rejects his request but changes his mind when the drug lord explains the full story; that his wife is already dead; the ransom paid but they killed and dismembered her anyway. What follows is a classic crime investigation of the seedy underbelly, well The Seedy Underbelly,  because that is where these stories always occur. But Neeson is give more here, more to chew on, more to present to us, more to think about, as he investigates the serial kidnappings & killings and makes decisions about who he is working for, why and who he is up against. Its an unremarkable movie but I rather recommend it. In much the way I am happy to see actors acting, in all range of movies, I am happy to see a decently movie created, for a director has to direct, even if it isn't Oscar worthy, as long as they do it with heart and concerted effort.