A Walk Among the Tombstones Blu-ray Review
When we first meet NYPD detective Matt Scudder (Neeson) it’s 1991 and he’s just stopped into his favorite watering hole for a liquid breakfast. While sitting in a booth he overhears a robbery attempt, then a gunshot as the barkeep is shot. Scudder races outside and engages in a gun battle with the bad guys. Soon, there are three bodies in the street. Unfortunately for Scudder, only two people held up the bar.
Eight years later we meet Scudder again, this time at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He tells his story often, especially as he seems to like to attend meetings. He makes the acquaintance of Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook) a fellow “friend of Bill W.” who knows that now Scudder makes his living as a private detective. Peter tells Scudder that his brother, Kenny (Stevens), needs his help. Scudder meets with Kenny and learns that his wife had been kidnapped, tortured and killed, even though Kenny followed the kidnapper’s orders and paid the ransom. Now Kenny is looking for revenge, which does not interest Scudder. However, when he learns of similar events happening he puts on his thinking cap (and occasionally flashes the former badge) and learns that all of the women being kidnapped and killed are married to drug dealers. Just like Kenny. When the daughter of another dealer is kidnapped, Scudder decides to go into action.
Based on the 10th novel in a popular series by Lawrence Block, A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES is a tightly written and directed film that only loses steam towards the end when the viewer learns who the killers are. Up until that moment we are left with Neeson at his best, growling his words as he plies his trade. He also meets a young boy named T.J., a smart kid that imagines himself as Scudder’s partner. Neeson’s Scudder wears his emotions on his sleeve and every confession at every meeting draws the viewer to the truth of his despair. The supporting cast is well suited as well. As the Kristo brothers, both Holbrook and Stevens share the bond of losing someone they loved, especially Peter, who also holds a secret for Scudder to find out. As young T.J., Brian “Astro” Bradley handles the role of a young, homeless black youth with skill, not going for the stereotypical performance that one could have easily given considering the character. His T.J. is smooth and sharp and headed on the right road. That it intersected with Scudder’s is just a coincidence.
The production values are also top notch, with the noir’ish cinematography by Mihal Malaimare, Jr. (Paul Thomas Anderson’s DP on THE MASTER) and musical score by first time composer Carlos Rafael Rivera setting the tone of the film. Film (and Scudder) fans should know that this is not the first time we’ve seen Matthew Scudder on screen. He was portrayed by Jeff Bridges almost three decades ago in Hal Ashby’s 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE. In that film, Scudder also shoots someone, loses his job and goes to AA. I hope that’s not the plot of all eighteen novels!
Video: Presented in a 2:40.1 aspect ratio, the film has been well transferred. The film has a slight darkness to it, as if every scene was shot on an overcast day. This helps set the mood of the film perfectly.
Audio: Available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the soundtrack is well mixed. The various gun battles do not overload the soundtrack and are clear but not too loud. The disc also has a Spanish soundtrack in DTS 5.1.
A Look Behind the Tombstones (12:28): A fairly standard featurette with interviews of the cast and crew.
Matt Scudder: Private Eye (6:37): A great, yet short, piece in which the books author, Lawrence Block, and screenwriter/director Scott Frank discuss Matt Scudder and their attempts to bring him to the big screen. Would have loved to have seen more of these two talking. Frank famously adapted Elmore Leonard’s “Out of Sight” and “Get Shorty” for the big screen and it’s clear that he has a great respect for the genre’