They used to make films like “A Walk Among the Tombstones” on a regular basis: mysteries built around flawed heroes, in which character was as important as plot, and action was the catharsis, not the reason for the story itself. Scott Frank, who directs and adapted the film from a Lawrence Block novel, understands the hard edge required to tell this story, but has the patience to let the story unfold without injecting gunfights or even that much hand-to-hand until it’s really required.
As played by Liam Neeson, Matthew Scudder, the central character in a series of books by Block, is like a large walking bruise. A former cop who works as an unregistered private eye, he is approached by a fellow struggler at an AA meeting, who asks him for help. It’s actually for his brother, Kenny (Dan Stevens), who turns out to be a wiry drug dealer whose wife has been kidnapped.
This review continues on my website.