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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: A Walk Among the Tombstones

January 12th, 2015

A Walk Among the Tombstones - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

A Walk Among the Tombstones opened in September, which is a bad sign. It did earn good reviews, but failed to find an audience in theaters. Granted, it was a September release, so perhaps that's the problem. Or perhaps Liam Neeson has done one too many similar roles and moviegoers have grown tired of these movies.

The Movie

Liam Neeson plays Matt Scudder, whom we meet in the prologue. He starts his day on the job by going to a pub and ordering two shots to go with his coffee. While there, two men come into the bar and shoot the bartender. Matt Scudder gives chase and fires a large number of shots, killing one of the assailants, then the getaway driver, and finally the last shooter. However, while stopping three killers would be a great day for a cop, he learns one of the many, many shots he took hit an innocent girl and killed her instantly. (Although we don't learn this right away.)

Flash forward eight years and Matt Scudder is no longer a cop, but he is a recovering alcoholic. He's working as a private eye, an unlicensed private eye. He's called to the house of Kenny Kristo, who asks for his help. Kenny's wife was kidnapped and despite paying the $400,000 ransom, the kidnappers killed his wife anyway. He wants Matt to find out who did it, so that he can get revenge. Matt turns down his offer of $20,000, but when Kenny comes to Matt's apartment and tells him what happened. Kenny even gives Matt a recording of his wife's last moments and with that Matt takes the case.

Matt's first day on the case isn't exactly illuminating, but while at the library, he runs into T.J., a homeless boy who has been living there. T.J. helps Matt look up similar crimes, it's not like Matt is computer literate. While Matt follows leads and gets to know more about T.J., we see the kidnappers scouting their latest target. Of course, since this is a murder mystery of sorts, those details are well into spoiler territory.

So how is A Walk Among the Tombstones compared to other Liam Neeson movies? Well, I've reviewed a lot of them, too many of them, in fact. Comparing this film to his others that are in a similar genre I can say this is better than most in many respects, but it wasn't as entertaining. Liam Neeson is excellent in the movie, as usual, and you can't fault his acting. The mystery is also engaging and following Matt Scudder gathering the clues. That said, the movie is incredibly dour and it wasn't engaging enough to compensate. I think I've been "grittied" out. There are too many gritty films and TV shows and video games and I just need more color and humor than this film is willing to provide.

It is important to remember that this is just my opinion. If you are looking for a darker murder mystery film with great acting and plenty of atmosphere, then A Walk Among the Tombstones is absolutely worth checking out. I'm just burned out on these films.

The Extras

There are only two extras on the Blu-ray. A Look Behind the Tombstones is a 12-minute long making of featurette and it is the only extra on the DVD. Matt Scudder: Private Eye is a 6-minute featurette about the character. That's not enough for a first-run release. Granted, the film flopped at the box office, but I was still expecting more than this.

The technical presentation is great, for the most part. The film isn't a cornucopia of colors, but that was for aesthetic reasons and you can't blame the transfer for that. The level of details is strong and the contrast is excellent. There are no compression issues or digital artifacts that I noticed. The 5.1 surround sound audio track isn't among the most active I've listened to, but it does a great job helping the atmosphere.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack costs $23, or 27% more than the DVD. That's a fair price for this type of release.

The Verdict

What do you say about a movie that is well done, but you've been burned out on the genre? That's my opinion on A Walk Among the Tombstones. I'm glad I got a chance to see it and perhaps when the overall tastes have changed and we are getting too many goofy films I will enjoy watching something much more serious. If you did like the movie, the DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack are disappointingly light on extras.


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Filed under: Video Review, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Brian Bradley