In this bestselling mystery written by Lawrence Block , Neeson plays a retired NYPD detective Scudder haunted by demons who has been manipulated in solving the kidnapping of drug king pin Kenny Kristo's (Dan Stevens) wife. This heroin dealer is played by Dan Stevens straight from Downton Abbey as Matthew Crawley. With his weight loss and hair dyed blonde to brunette, he is barely recognizable. But his fine acting in A Walk Among the Tombstones is.
In a library, Scudder meets a young punk, TJ (Brian Astro Bradley) who tears up the screen every time he appears. Bradley is helped by having some of the best dialogue. While this film's dialogue is not the problem, the script by Scott Frank, who wrote the sceenplay and directed this turkey, is. A good pace in the form of a cat and mouse caper is created and moves swiftly, mysteriously through the film.
But in the end as Frank felt a need to accent the character change in Scudder who is a recovering alcoholic, a voice over recites the Twelve Steps of AA Recovery. This distracting, silly voice over ruins the plot like a sledgehammer. This voice over was not needed.
It just blocked the natural flow of this film and its forward movement. We have scenes of Scudder in an AA meeting sharing his story and scenes at an AA meeting with Howie (Eric Nelson), a fellow addict, who introduces Scudder to drug dealer Kristo. These are effective and establish character, but enough already with the AA preaching the Twelve Steps and trying to use as part of the plot. Shame on Scott Frank for ruining a good film.
Also A Walk Among the Tombstones would certainly have been a better film if there were meaningful roles for women. Oh, we have photos of the dead wife Leila Alvarez (Laura Birn) as she is murdered used in the credits and another victim who is kidnapped Marielle Heller. Then again a nurse, Natia Dune, but creating women's roles intrinsic to a plot are an anathema to Lawrence Block and Scott Frank.
Oh where o' where are the women's roles in Hollywood and women directors who would welcome them? The kidnappers are played by David Harbor, who is always convincing, and Adam David. Their gruesome way of killing their victims is by cutting up the bodies and stuffing them in plastic bags. The ending is predictable, but all could have been forgiven if Scott Frank gotten off of his AA pulpit and gotten in front of the lens and looked more closely at what he had created and let it have its own life on the screen.