A Walk Among the Tombstones review

Ageing action hero Liam Neeson's brooding crime thriller is more Taggart than Taken

Liam Neeson takes a break from running around Europe beating up people for a slightly more thoughtful role in this glum thriller based on the best-selling 1992 crime novel by Lawrence Block.

A Walk Among the Tombstones sees the actor bring his brooding intensity to ex New York cop turned P.I. Matthew Scudder, who has been hired to track down the killers of a drug trafficker's wife. As the investigation continues, Scudder uncovers a string of similar murders, all involving the families of people involved in the drugs trade.

As usual, Neeson is by far the best thing about the film, bringing a grizzled weariness to the lead role that you can really buy into. Unfortunately, the story his character finds himself adrift in is simultaneously underdeveloped and burdened by too many plots. Worst of all is the growing friendship between Scudder and homeless adolescent T.J. (Brian 'Astro' Bradley), which distracts attention away from the central murder-mystery with ham-fisted melodrama and clichéd character arcs.

Picture: Director Scott Frank has naturally opted for a dark and dour style in keeping with the tone of the material. Unfortunately, while it may look pretty moody, it's doesn't actually look very pretty.

The main problem is that the deliberately desaturated digital photography results in a very flat and grey AVC-encoded 2.40:1 1080p Blu-ray transfer – a situation not helped by constantly crushed blacks that offer up next-to-nothing in the way of shadow detail. Brighter scenes and close-ups do reveal an admirable crispness and plenty of fine detail in the image, but even these don't entirely avoid the ever-so-slightly plasticized look that haunts this high-definition encode.
Picture rating: 3.5/5

Audio: A Walk Among the Tombstones arrives on Blu-ray with a front-loaded DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. The L/C/R spread is fairly expansive, with well-balanced dialogue and effective panning. However, outside of giving Carlos Rafael Rivera's sinister score a little more room to breathe and a couple of moments of gunplay (most notably Chapter 13's graveyard shootout), the surround speakers are barely troubled.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: This Blu-ray can only muster a pair of short behind-the-scenes featurettes. Matt Scudder: Private Eye (six minutes) looks at the literary origin of the character and Neeson's screen portrayal, while A Look Behind the Tombstones (12 minutes) is a more general overview of the film's production.
Extras rating: 1/5

We say: An average Blu-ray outing for an average murder-mystery bolstered only by Neeson's performance

A Walk Among the Tombstones, EntertainmentOne, Region B BD, £25 Approx