A Walk Among the Tombstones
Theatrical release poster
Directed byScott Frank
Produced by
Screenplay byScott Frank
Based onA Walk Among the Tombstones
by Lawrence Block
Starring
Music byCarlos Rafael Rivera
CinematographyMihai Mălaimare Jr.
Edited byJill Savitt
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • September 19, 2014 (2014-09-19)
Running time
114 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$23–28 million[2][3]
Box office$62.1 million[4]

A Walk Among the Tombstones is a 2014 American neo-noir psychological thriller film[5][6][7][8] 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.

Plot

In 1991, Detective Matthew "Matt" Scudder, in a car with his partner, is urged to get help and is told he is not a reliable backup. Scudder then enters a bar and gets shots with a coffee. Two armed men come in and kill the bartender. Scudder fatally shoots one, pursues and kills the second assailant, and the getaway driver.

Eight years later, a drug addict named Peter Kristo approaches a retired Scudder, asking him to help his brother Kenny Kristo (a drug trafficker whose wife was kidnapped and murdered). He tells Scudder that after delivering the ransom, the kidnappers directed him to a car containing his wife's dismembered body. Scudder ultimately agrees to find them.

At the library, Scudder researches similar killings, and finds victims Marie Gotteskind and Leila Anderssen. He meets a homeless youth named TJ, a streetwise artist with sickle cell anemia who helps with his search.

Based on an article, Scudder goes to a cemetery and speaks with the groundskeeper, Jonas Loogan, upset that Scudder reminds his finding bags containing parts of the dismembered Leila in the cemetery pond.

Scudder talks to Leila's fiancé, Reuben, who saw two men drag her into a van driven by a third. Out the window, Scudder sees Loogan exiting an apartment building. In a tool shed belonging to Loogan on the roof, Scudder finds photos of Reuben and Leila having sex.

Loogan 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, the other two tortured and killed her. He gives Scudder one name, "Ray," and jumps off the roof to his death.

The two kidnappers, Ray and Albert, scout out the home of Yuri Landau, 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, and Ray decides to kidnap her.

Scudder eventually learns that the victim Marie Gotteskind was a DEA agent and realizes that whoever murdered her also got her files, which they have been using to choose their victims. Meanwhile, Scudder grows closer to TJ, encouraging the boy to study and avoid a life of crime. During a conversation with TJ, Scudder explains why he retired. During the shootout in 1991, one of his stray bullets "took a bad hop" and killed a 7-year-old girl. He has been sober ever since.

Kenny brings Scudder to Yuri Landau's home, where the kidnappers call and arrange a drop. Scudder, Kenny, Landau, Peter, and TJ (who earlier brought Scudder his old gun) go to the cemetery. After a stand off, Lucia, with a finger cut down to the bone, is returned to her father. When Albert realizes the ransom money is counterfeit, a shootout ensues. Peter is killed, and Scudder wounds Ray. Albert and Ray escape in their van, with TJ hiding in the back.

After Albert and Ray arrive at their place, TJ sneaks out of the van, calling Scudder and telling him the address. Albert kills the wounded Ray in the basement and goes back upstairs to find Scudder, Kenny and TJ. Scudder overpowers and cuffs Albert. Leaving Albert for Kenny to decide what to do with, he calls a cab for TJ. Kenny knocks out Albert with a bottle and goes into the basement, where he finds Ray’s body and tools used for dismembering bodies. While Kenny is downstairs, Albert wakes up and frees himself. Scudder goes back inside, finding Kenny's corpse. Albert attacks him, and after a brief fight, Scudder kills him.

Scudder returns home to find TJ sleeping on the couch and spots a drawing that TJ made of himself as a superhero.

Cast

Development

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.[9] 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.[10]

Filming began on March 3, 2013 in New York City.[11] 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."[12]

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".[13] On October 18, 2013, Block tweeted that he had seen the film and revealed producers were aiming for a September 2014 release.[14] On January 30, 2014, it was announced the film would be released on September 19, 2014.[15]

Reception

Box office

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.[4]

The film earned $428,000 from Thursday night from 1,918 theaters, and $4.7 million from 2,712 theaters on its opening day.[16][17] It debuted at number two at the box office on its opening weekend earning $13.1 million behind The Maze Runner ($32.5 million).[18]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 67% based on 163 reviews, with an average rating of 6.20/10. 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."[19] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.[21]

Richard Roeper gave the film a B+ rating, calling the film "a stylish and smart thriller".[22] 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".[23] In Variety, Andrew Barker found it a well-made thriller "with a good deal of panache and style".[24]

References

  1. ^ "A Walk among the Tombstones (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014.
  2. ^ FilmL.A. (May 2015). "2014 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. Feature Film Study. Retrieved August 14, 2018.
  3. ^ "A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) - Box Office Mojo". September 19, 2014. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)". January 27, 2017. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  5. ^ "Watch: Liam Neeson Takes 'A Walk Among The Tombstones' In Trailer For Action Thriller". IndieWire.
  6. ^ "A Walk Among the Tombstones - Movie Page". UPHE.
  7. ^ "Why Liam Neeson Movies Are A Guaranteed Success At The Box Office". Business Insider.
  8. ^ "A Walk Among the Tombstones". Fandango.
  9. ^ Jochimsen, Tino (April 23, 2013). "Liam Neeson's 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' will be huge". MoviePilot.com. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 17, 2012). "Liam Neeson Takes 'A Walk Among The Tombstones' In Production Deal with Exclusive Media and Cross Creek Pictures". Deadline.com.
  11. ^ Chitwood, Adam (March 3, 2013). "Production Begins on Scott Frank's A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Starring Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, and Ruth Wilson". Collider.com.
  12. ^ Bloom, Dan (April 11, 2013). "Liam Neeson Takes 'Walk Among the Tombstones'". Yahoo! Movies.
  13. ^ "A Walk Among the Tombstones Production Update". MovieInsider.com. October 9, 2013.
  14. ^ Lawrence Block [@LawrenceBlock] (October 18, 2013). "Saw #AWalkAmongTheTombstones today. Liam Neeson brilliant as Scudder, Scott Frank script and direction tops. Set for September release" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Universal Dates Crimson Peak, Ouija, Pitch Perfect 2 and More!". ComingSoon. January 30, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  16. ^ Busch, Anita (September 19, 2014). "Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Off To Good Start With $1.1M, 'Tombstones' Takes In $480K – Late Night Numbers". Deadline. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  17. ^ Mendelson, Scott (September 20, 2014). "Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Sprints To $11.25M, 30+ Weekend". Forbes. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  18. ^ Mendelson, Scott (September 21, 2014). "Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Races To $32.5M Weekend, Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' Bombs". Forbes. Retrieved September 21, 2014.
  19. ^ A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) at Rotten Tomatoes
  20. ^ A Walk Among the Tombstones reviews at Metacritic
  21. ^ "A Walk Among the Tombstones". CinemaScore. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  22. ^ Roeper, Richard. "Walk Among the Tombstones Review". RichardRoeper.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014.
  23. ^ Dargis, Manohla (September 18, 2014). "Good vs. Evil, Both Bloody". The New York Times. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  24. ^ Barker, Andrew (September 16, 2014). "Film Review:'A Walk Among the Tombstones'". Variety. Retrieved June 14, 2015.