There’s nothing new under the sun at the movies these days. Everything seems to be a half rip off or copy of something that came before it either stylistically or thematically. With Liam Neeson’s recent starrer A Walk Among the Tombstones, viewers may have initially felt this would be more of the same fare from viewing some of the advertisements. There stands Neeson, trusty gun in hand, talking tough to bad guys and kicking butt all over the place, but that’s where the similarities between this film and anything else the veteran actor has ever done end.

Based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Block and set in New York City in 1999,  A Walk Among the Tombstones star Neeson is private detective Matt Scudder. He’s a hardcore former NYPD officer who guards his heart and his past with his stoic exterior and seemingly callous ways. The film opens as Scudder is hired by drug dealer Kenny Cristo to find the individuals who murdered his wife and bring them to him. He explains that she was kidnapped, and he paid the ransom on time, but they killed her anyway. The film unfurls from there as Scudder discovers the killers aren’t just in it for the ransom.

They’re a depraved and murderous duo who get pleasure from fear, torture and death. They are played scarily and convincingly by actors David Harbour and Adam David Thompson. Rapper-turned-actor Astro also plays a prominent role in the film as T.J., a homeless teenager who fancies himself as being Scudder’s sidekick. Part of the appeal of A Walk Among the Tombstones is the unabashed grittiness of it all.

The locations, the lead characters and subject matter were so powerful that only a city as tough as New York City could realistically encompass it all.  Scudder follows the trail of sadistically dismember bodies hoping the murderers will eventual make a mistake. What starts out as just business quickly descends into a race against time to save an innocent life. A Walk Among the Tombstones is a classic detective story with a wicked twist. 

The Shadow League gives A Walk Among the Tombstones an A. It opens today in theaters nationwide.