A Walk Among the Tombstones Blu-ray Review
Worth taking A Walk Among the Tombstones?
Providing a middling (re-)introduction to the world of novelist Lawrence Block's private investigator, Matt Scudder, this new adaptation benefits from Neeson's presence but struggles to distinguish itself within the genre.Providing an eminently darker and more gritty world within which recently reinvented action-man icon Liam Neeson can peddle his wares, A Walk Among the Tombstones enters familiar psycho-killer territory, as our ex-alcoholic-cop-turned-unlicensed-private-detective hero is reluctantly enlisted by a shady drug trafficker to find the men that abducted and killed his wife - even after he paid the ransom.
As he investigates the matter he find himself on the trail of a pair of serial kidnap-killers who target individuals that are more vulnerable because, due to the illegal nature of their profession, they are less likely to approach the authorities. And it falls upon Scudder to bring them to justice, one way or another.Although confidently and competently put together, writer/director Scott Frank's sophomore directorial outing only displays flashes of stylistic distinction, delivering a few memorable moments and tense set-pieces, but largely failing to blend it all into a cohesive, compelling whole.
There's lots of promise in Frank's work, and the solid foundation for a potentially far better franchise, should they invest in this character and develop him in sequels (rather than wait another 30 years, which is what they did with the last Scudder adaptation in the 80s, starring Jeff Bridges), but, as it is, it frequently draws comparisons to another crime-novel-turned-potential-movie-franchise of late: Cruise's Jack Reacher, and the comparisons are not always that favourable.
Blu-ray Picture QualityA Walk Among the Tombstones comes to Region B UK Blu-ray complete with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Although almost completely drained of colour, and subsisting in the darkness and shadows, with daylight brought on through an impenetrable cloudbase, Tombstones still looks the part, and shines, wherever it can, in HD. Detail is impressive, despite the encroaching darkness that seems intent on bathing everybody in shadow, and close-ups display fine attention to skin textures, clothing weaves and background flourishes. Middle-ground shots are almost as pristine, and longer shots bring the environment to life, affording some beauty to this almost Nordic setting.
Tombstones still looks the part, and shines, wherever it can, in HD.
The colour scheme, as you might have gathered, leaves little room for vibrancy, and yet the film trades in healthy skin tones and a strangely alive palette, with accurate tones across the palette. Black levels are strong and rich and afford excellent night sequences without robbing the image of any of its integral shadow detail. With no digital defects, and no real complaints, this is easily a demo presentation, and just shy of reference material.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a largely impressive affair, crafting a solid atmosphere for the gloomy city, with plenty of room for the score, and for the fairly infrequent but thoroughly authentic gunfire. Probably more so than any other movie that’s hit the cinemas in the last few years, Tombstones has the best handgun shots you’ve heard, and thankfully the fantastic, thunderous blams have made their way onto Blu-ray so that you can enjoy them at home too.
The best gunshots you’ll have heard in a long while.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, dominating the fronts and centre channel where necessary. The effects are mostly ambient, but provide an immersive soundscape, with some nice rear action and a decent LFE input. Although there’s nothing distinctly demo worthy from this mix, it’s not far off, and certainly does a very good job at presenting the aural side of the proceedings.
Blu-ray ExtrasJust a couple of Extras Featurettes, again matching up to the US counterpart; with Matt Scudder Private Eye and A Look Behind the Tombstones offering up short and limited behind the scenes snippets and interview segments with some of the key filmmakers.
A Walk Among the Tombstones Blu-ray VerdictWith far too much predictability, not enough tension and a really repetitive score which further draws unfavourable comparisons to Reacher, it's hard not to regard this as a less impressive, less original sibling to the Jack Reacher adaptation. However, it still does its job well enough - Neeson, kidnap victims, nasty killers, shady dealers, and thunderous gunshots echoing in the night; if that's what you came here expecting then you won't be too disappointed. And, at the end of the day, running off a relatively tiny budget which they've already more than made back at the Box Office, there's no reason why this can't be turned into a very enjoyable franchise, perhaps reversing the pattern of the Taken series and instead getting better with each successive entry.
Neeson can do his Taken routine with his eyes closed but it would be nice to see a little more of The Grey from him.
This Region B-locked UK release matches up to its US counterpart on the technical front and provides impressive video and audio as well as a smattering of extras, but unfortunately it appears to be the same cut version of the film as the UK got at the cinema. Whilst the cut was, allegedly, only to one scene with threatened violence and bad language (towards a woman) the sole thing that appears to have been changed, those who do like the movie may want to look towards the Region Free US version instead to own. Those interested could give this a rental, but may end up looking overseas too.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £13.00
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