A Walk Among the Tombstones Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, Brian "Astro" Bradley. Directed by Scott Frank. Rated R. Opens Friday.
Seven years ago, screenwriter Scott Frank made his directorial debut with the subtly brilliant heist movie The Lookout, and it’s taken him until now to get to the follow-up. A Walk Among the Tombstones, based on the 10th novel in author Lawrence Block’s long-running series about private investigator Matthew Scudder, is a far more conventional thriller than The Lookout. But Frank treats the material with sophistication and restraint, even when the story turns violent and potentially lurid.
Liam Neeson nails Scudder’s badassery, of course, but he also brings out the character’s haunted vulnerability, as he tracks a pair of serial killers who target helpless family members of drug traffickers. The movie could have done without Scudder’s homeless teen sidekick (Brian “Astro” Bradley), who’s played mostly for cheap sentiment, but Frank manages to find genuine moments for even such a stock character. Like Scudder, Tombstones is quiet, unpretentious and ultimately pretty effective.