Move Over, Sam Spade; Liam Neeson is Here as a Private Eye



Astro & Neeson 

Lawrence Block’s Detective Scudder receives tough-guy treatment from director Scott Frank.

Liam Neeson seems to turn these out these film like sausages on an assembly line, but they are the kielbasa of sausages. A Walk Among the Tombstones is a dark and dangerous throwback to the Bogie detectives like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.

It turns the bad guys into psychopaths taking revenge on drug dealers, turning the usual formula upside down.

Besides Neeson’s usual performance as the best example of world-weary ennui since Richard Burton, the film is loaded with wonderful character actors on top of their game.

You won’t recognize Dan Stevens as client of Scudder. Formerly one of Downton Abbey’s pillars, Stevens seems to have lost weight and darkened his hair for this unflinching role. This isn’t Matthew Crawley.

Most of all, we recognized Astro, basically playing the same role he performed on Person of Interest a few seasons back, as a precocious sidekick to the hero. But, all the actors are impressive—from Boyd Holbrook to David Harbour.

Set in New York City in 1991, it takes upon it a rotten Big Apple flavor with body parts scattered about the boroughs. Neeson’s detective works in a society on the cusp of computers and cell phones, and he disdains both. Now that’s hard-boiled.

Since author Lawrence Block has more than a few novels in the Mickey Spillane style with this lead character, it would surely give Liam Neeson a franchise worthy of his talents.

Whether box office has suffused this to be a series, we will have to wait and see. We will, however, eagerly await Scott Frank’s future directorial efforts.