Reviewer Gavin Miller runs the rule over Liam Neeson’s latest silver screen outing.
There’s no doubting Liam Neeson’s always pretty good value – but he is starting to get stereotyped in these kind of roles after the likes of Taken, Unknown and Non-Stop.
His seemingly similar typecasting (yep, Taken 3 is out in January) would probably be a tad unfair in this case – even though it looks like it from the outside – as he plays a more reserved criminal investigator in this crime-thriller, a slightly different change-of-pace to his recent gung-ho action roles.
He stars as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop operating just outside the law, who reluctantly agrees to help Dan Stevens’ drug trafficker – fresh from his recent impressive turn in The Guest – hunt down the men who kidnapped and brutally murdered his wife.
Scudder soon discovers the killers have targeted drug dealers for bumper ransom pay outs before – but always ended up murdering their victims anyway – leaving him to scour the backstreets of New York City for clues.
But unfortunately, Tombstones doesn’t actually reach the exciting heights of some of Neeson’s more notable recent action work, and ends up just being a solid, serviceable thriller, that never really gets out of third gear.
The side-story where Scudder befriends young homeless black kid TJ – played by former US X-Factor star Brian ‘Astro’ Bradley (Earth to Echo) – doesn’t really add anything to the plot, and only showcases Astro’s distinct lack of acting talent.
Despite offering one or two compelling moments it still suffers from some genre clichés – and seems to be trying too hard to provide a gritty tone more akin to George Clooney’s Michael Clayton.
Fortunately Neeson’s screen presence does just enough to keep this from the movie graveyard by providing his trademark watchability factor – but it’s never as clever as it thinks it is.