One of the things we appear to have lost in recent years, as studios apparently concentrate exclusively on massive quarter of a billion dollar superhero behemoths, is the old fashioned midrange crime thriller, the film aimed at adults (as in grown-ups rather than dirty old men) rather than clueless and easily distracted teenagers. Once upon a time of movies were principally made for mature audiences rather than families and children; now it's the other way round and in all honesty the industry is worse for the switch. Don't get me wrong: I'm all in favour of the mindless 12A blockbuster if it's done well enough; but it's nice to find that once in a while they still make films aimed slightly higher than whizzbang eye candy.
A Walk Among The Tombstones turns out to be just such a film: a grim, serious lowlife crime thriller which has no interest in easy popcorn thrills, instead of choosing to explore the seamy, grimy side of pre-millennial New York. Liam Neeson is the hard boiled world weary former cop turned unofficial private eye, called in by sleazy trafficker Dan Stevens to track down the hideous psychopaths who kidnapped, and then murdered, his wife. As he digs through the tenuous leads, he discovers that it's happened before - and will probably happen again...
It's not a great film: for one thing Neeson ends up as a reluctant mentor to a street kid (Brian 'Astro' Bradley - best known for being an X factor contestant), and for another pretty much everyone in the movie is an unsympathetic individual for whom it's difficult to raise much empathy. (The female roles are almost exclusively victims.) But I liked the downbeat feel of the film, the washed out colours, the fact that the plot is perfectly happy to place young children in mortal danger, and the sometimes vicious level of violence.
Having said that, it's a pity that the distributors elected to try and water down the film by making a few trims (for very strong language and a scene of sexualised threat) in order to obtain a 15 certificate. Quite apart from the fact that this is quite clearly an adult film for adult audiences and should be rated as such, this means it's a very strong 15: as close as possible to an 18 without actually being burdened with one. Personally I feel the released version is still worthy of an 18, just as the sanitised A Good Day To Die Hard still warranted a restrictive 15 rather than a cuddly 12A. No matter: those small excisions don't get in the way of a grim, sordid but still darkly enjoyable thriller. Worth seeing.