A Walk Among the Tombstones (film)
A Walk Among the Tombstones is a 2014 American neo-noir action thriller film written and directed by Scott Frank, and based on the 1992 novel of the same name by Lawrence Block. It stars Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Brian Bradley, and Boyd Holbrook. The film was released on September 19, 2014. Critical reception was mixed and the film grossed $62 million worldwide.
|A Walk Among the Tombstones|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Scott Frank|
|Screenplay by||Scott Frank|
|Based on||A Walk Among the Tombstones|
by Lawrence Block
|Music by||Carlos Rafael Rivera|
|Cinematography||Mihai Mălaimare Jr.|
|Edited by||Jill Savitt|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$62.1 million|
In 1991, Detective Matthew "Matt" Scudder (Liam Neeson) is in a car with his partner, who urges him to get help and expresses his concern that Scudder is not a reliable backup. Scudder then enters a bar and buys drinks with a coffee. Two armed men come in and kill the bartender, and Matt fatally shoots one assailant. He pursues and kills the second assailant, as well as their getaway driver.
Eight years later, a drug addict named Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook) approaches Matt, now retired, and asks him to help his brother Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens). Kenny is a drug trafficker whose wife was kidnapped and murdered. Kenny tells Matt that after he delivered the ransom, the kidnappers directed him to a car containing his wife's dismembered body. Matt ultimately agrees to find the kidnappers.
At the library, Matt researches similar killings, and finds victims named Marie Gotteskind and Leila Anderssen. He meets a homeless youth named TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley), who helps with his search.
Based on an article, Matt goes to a cemetery and speaks with the groundskeeper, Jonas Loogan (Olafur Darri Olafsson), who is upset that Matt forces him to remember finding bags containing parts of the dismembered Leila in the cemetery pond.
Matt talks to Leila's fiancé Reuben (Mark Consuelos), who claims to have witnessed two men drag her into a van driven by a third person. Out the window, Matt sees Jonas exiting an apartment building. In a tool shed belonging to Jonas on the building's roof, Matt finds photos of Reuben and Leila having sex.
Jonas admits that he helped kidnap Leila. He had conspired to take Leila away from Reuben, who is a drug dealer, and help her stop using drugs. Instead, however, the other two men tortured and killed Leila. Jonas gives Matt one name, Ray, and jumps off the roof to his death.
The two kidnappers, Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson), scout the home of Yuri Landau (Sebastian Roché), another drug trafficker. After realizing Landau's wife is bedridden, they prepare to leave for a new target. However, they see his 14-year-old daughter Lucia (Danielle Rose Russell), and Ray decides to kidnap her.
Matt eventually learns that Marie was a DEA agent and realizes that the people who murdered her also got her files, which they have been using to choose their victims. Meanwhile, Matt grows closer to TJ, and encourages the boy to study to avoid a life of crime. During a conversation with TJ, Matt explains why he retired. During the shootout from the opening scene, one of his stray bullets "took a bad hop" and killed a 7-year-old girl. He has been sober ever since.
Kenny brings Matt to Landau's home, where the kidnappers call and arrange a drop. Matt, Kenny, Landau, Peter, and TJ (who earlier brought Matt his old gun) go to the cemetery. After a stand off, Lucia, with a finger hurt down to the bone, is returned to her father. When Albert realizes the ransom money is counterfeit, a shootout ensues. Peter is killed, and Matt wounds Ray. Albert and Ray escape in their van.
After Albert and Ray arrive at their place, TJ sneaks out of their van, calls Matt, and tells him the address. Albert garrottes Ray in the basement, and goes back upstairs to find Matt, Kenny, and TJ. Matt overpowers and cuffs Albert. He leaves Albert for Kenny and calls a cab for TJ. While Kenny goes down in the basement, Albert frees himself. Matt goes back inside the house and finds Kenny's corpse. Albert attacks Matt, and after a brief fight, Matt kills him.
Matt returns home to find TJ sleeping on the couch and spots a drawing that TJ made of himself as a superhero (a sickle is visible on the hero's chest, a callback to TJ's sickle cell anemia). He sits down and falls asleep.
- Liam Neeson as Matthew Scudder
- Dan Stevens as Kenny Kristo
- Boyd Holbrook as Peter Kristo
- Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Jonas Loogan
- Brian "Astro" Bradley as TJ
- Mark Consuelos as Reuben Quintana
- David Harbour as Ray
- Adam David Thompson as Albert
- Sebastian Roché as Yuri Landau
- Laura Birn as Leila Andersen
- Danielle Rose Russell as Ludmilla Landau (Lucia)
- Marielle Heller as Marie Gotteskind
A film adaptation of Block’s novel had been in development for several years with a script from Scott Frank. In 2002, Harrison Ford was attached to star and D. J. Caruso to direct. In May 2012, Liam Neeson had reportedly signed on to play Matthew Scudder in the film, with Frank himself directing, and production slated to begin February 2013.
Filming began on March 3, 2013 in New York City. Producers invited author Block to the set to watch filming. On the casting of Neeson, Block said, "Readers often ask who'd be my ideal Matt Scudder, and I usually change the subject. But now it's safe to tell you that, ever since I saw him in Michael Collins, Neeson has been up at the top of my personal Scudder wish list. I couldn't be happier about either the star or the writer/director, both of them genuine artists and brilliant professionals. My book's in good hands."
The film was completed on October 8, 2013 and classified by the MPAA as rated R for "strong violence, disturbing images, language, and brief nudity". On October 18, 2013, Block tweeted that he had seen the film and revealed producers were aiming for a September 2014 release. On January 30, 2014, it was announced the film would be released on September 19, 2014.
A Walk Among the Tombstones grossed $26 million in North America and $36.1 million in other territories for a total gross of $62.1 million, against its $28 million budget.
The film earned $428,000 from Thursday night from 1,918 theaters, and $4.7 million from 2,712 theaters on its opening day. It debuted at number two at the box office on its opening weekend earning $13.1 million behind The Maze Runner ($32.5 million).
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 66% based on 147 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A Walk Among the Tombstones doesn't entirely transcend its genre clichés, but it does offer Liam Neeson one of his more compelling roles in recent memory, and that's often enough." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Richard Roeper gave the film a B+ rating, calling the film "a stylish and smart thriller". Manohla Dargis in The New York Times called it "one of those rare cinematic offerings: intelligent pulp" but also noted that the film "can be tough to watch, particularly its fleeting images of tortured women". In Variety, Andrew Barker found it a well-made thriller "with a good deal of panache and style".
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