A Walk Among the Tombstones (film)

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A Walk Among the Tombstones
A Walk Among the Tombstones poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Frank
Produced by
Screenplay by Scott Frank
Based on A Walk Among the Tombstones 
by Lawrence Block
Music by Carlos Rafael Rivera
Cinematography Mihai Malaimare, Jr.
Edited by Jill Savitt
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • September 19, 2014 (2014-09-19)
Running time
114 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28 million[2]
Box office $53.2 million[2]

A Walk Among the Tombstones is a 2014 American crime drama film based on a novel by Lawrence Block of the same name, written and directed by Scott Frank. It stars Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, and Boyd Holbrook. The film was released on September 19, 2014.


In 1991, Detective Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) is in a car with his partner. He then enters a bar and gets two shots and a cup of coffee. Two masked men then come in and try to take some money, when the bartender says no. They shoot the man in the chest, prompting Matt to take his gun and fire at them. He runs into the street and shoots one man down. The second man and a third drive away. Matt shoots the driver while the final man flees. Matt shoots him in the thigh and follows him down some steps and kills him.

Eight years later, Matt, now a recovered alcoholic, is in a diner about to have a meal when a junkie named Peter (Boyd Holbrook) approaches him and asks Matt to help his brother Kenny. Matt at first doesn't seem interested, but he follows Peter out and then goes with him to the home of his brother, Kenny Kristo (Dan Stevens). Kenny knows of Matt's work as a private investigator and offers him $20,000 to find the men that kidnapped and killed his wife, despite Kenny paying the ransom they requested. Matt figures out that Kenny is a drug trafficker and refuses to help him.

Matt returns to his apartment and finds Kenny sitting outside waiting for him. He tells her his wife's name was Carrie, and assures Matt that he did care about his wife. Through a flashback, we see the moment Kenny got the phone call from the kidnappers demanding a ransom of $500,000, (actually, $1,000,000) while Kenny tried to haggle them for $400,000. The main kidnapper threatened to send Kenny one of Carrie's breasts to prove he was not messing around. Kenny complied and brought the money to the area they told him to go to and to wait for Carrie to get back in the car. She never arrived. He was then told to look in the trunk of an old car in Red Hook. The trunk contained several bags, each one filled with Carrie's blood and body parts. Kenny hands Matt a tape recorder that was in the trunk. Matt listens to it after Kenny leaves, which has a recording of the kidnappers harming Carrie and her screaming. Matt then agrees to investigate.

Matt looks around Red Hook to get leads. What he knows is that the kidnappers were most likely involved with the DEA. All the people he asks say they saw a van and two men close to where Carrie was last seen. Every person Matt asks gives him a different name of what was written on the van, since the two men keep repainting the van.

Matt goes to the library to find articles on similar killings. He reads two articles on victims named Marie Gotteskind and Leila Anderssen. Behind him is a street kid named TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley). Matt asks him for help with looking for other articles. Together, they learn that a leg was found in a dumpster by a florist, while other bags filled with body parts were in the pond of a cemetery. Matt then treats TJ to pancakes at the diner.

Matt goes to the cemetery to speak with the groundskeeper, Jonas Loogan (Olafur Darri Olafsson). He repressed the memory of finding the dead woman in all those bags, and is upset when Matt brings it up.

TJ follows Matt as he heads to an apartment, trying to aid him in detective work. Matt leaves him and finds Leila's fiance Reuben (Mark Consuelos) in his apartment and asks him about the last time he saw Leila. He was supposed to meet her at a cafe, but he witnessed her getting taken into a van by the two men and a third. Matt also suspects Reuben of being a drug trafficker. Matt looks out the window and sees a cage of birds on the rooftop of the building across the street. He goes to that building and finds a shed at the top that belongs to Jonas. In it is a page of a book he was writing, along with pictures of Reuben and Leila having sex. Jonas finds Matt in there and takes out a knife. Matt convinces him to put it down. Jonas admits that he was the driver when he and the two men kidnapped Leila. He didn't like that she was doing drugs with Reuben, so he conspired with the two men to take her away from there and keep her safe. Instead, they had Jonas drive to a spot where he witnessed the main kidnapper cutting her blouse open and asking her which breast she likes more while he cuts off the other one. Horrified, Jonas fled the scene. Matt asks where he can find them. Jonas feeds his birds and gives Matt one name (Ray) before he jumps off the roof and lands on a car.

We meet the two kidnappers, Ray and Albert (David Harbour and Adam David Thompson), in their home. They drive by the home of another drug trafficker, Yuri Landau (Sebastian Roche). They see Yuri's pretty 14-year-old daughter Ludmilla, better known as Lucia (Danielle Rose Russell), walking her dog. She quickly waves to the men as she passes their van. Ray is enchanted by her.

Matt goes to a store and asks the owner about Marie Gotteskind. Matt later goes to an apartment where he is struck by the owner and his son since they have apparently been repeatedly accused of killing her. They tell Matt that she was a cop and that she was dealing drugs along with them.

The next day, Matt is followed by a man coming out of a van with East Village Plumbing Supply written on it, similar to the one the kidnappers were driving. Matt finds out the man is a DEA agent with his partners. They take Matt in a van and drop him off after he asks them about Marie and gets no answers.

Matt gets into Peter's apartment where he's about to shoot up. On the wall are dozens of nude paintings of Carrie, as Peter was in love with her. Matt tells him to tell Kenny that he will return him his money since he doesn't want to be involved in this case anymore.

In the rain, TJ is jumped by two punks who beat him up. Matt finds him at Bellevue Hospital. When TJ wakes up, he asks Matt why he stopped being a cop. Matt reveals that during the shootout (from the opening scene), one of the bullets accidentally struck a 7-year-old girl in the eye, killing her.

Ray and Albert break into the Landau home and tase the dog before tasing Lucia and kidnapping her after she tends to her sick mother.

Peter finds Matt and brings him to the Landau home where the kidnappers have called and are demanding a ransom for Lucia. Yuri answers and tries to negotiate, but Matt takes the phone from him and tells Ray that they won't get a cent if Lucia is harmed. After Ray proves that the girl is safe, they arrange a drop. Matt calls TJ on a phone he left him and asks him to go to his place and get a box, and to give it to Peter. TJ and Peter bring the box to the Landau home.

Matt, Kenny, Peter, Yuri, and TJ all go to the cemetery to meet with the kidnappers. Peter is hiding behind the tombstones with a rifle. They make the exchange, though Lucia's hands are bloodied, with Ray making a comment that this happened before the conditions were set. The girl returns to her father, and Albert takes the money. He realizes it's counterfeit and tries to tell Ray before Matt takes out his gun and shoots Ray twice in the chest, though he is saved by his bulletproof vest. Albert shoots at everyone and hits Peter, while Matt manages to get Ray in the side, wounding him. The kidnappers get away in their van while Matt and Kenny tend to a dying Peter. Matt goes to the car and sees TJ is missing.

TJ snuck into the back of the kidnappers' van and followed them to their home. He gets the street name and lets Matt know. In their house, Ray asks Albert to patch up Ray's bullet wound. Albert ignores that request. They go to the basement where Albert strangles Ray with the garrote. He goes back upstairs to eat when Matt, Kenny, and TJ come into the house. Matt cuffs Albert to a pipe and leaves him to Kenny. Matt sends TJ back to his place in a cab. Kenny whacks Albert in the head with a bottle and goes downstairs to find Ray. Albert gets himself loose. Matt decides to go back inside and finish the job, remembering the 12 Steps he heard at an AA meeting. He finds Kenny dead downstairs. Albert attacks Matt and they fight for a short while, before Matt is able to shoot Albert in the head.

Matt returns home to find TJ sleeping on the couch. He spots a drawing that TJ made of himself as a superhero. Matt sits down and slowly closes his eyes.



A film adaptation of Lawrence Block’s novel had been in development for several years with a script from Scott Frank. In 2002, Harrison Ford was attached to star and D.J. Caruso to direct.[3] In May 2012, Liam Neeson had reportedly signed on to play Matthew Scudder in the film, with Frank himself directing and production slated to begin February 2013.[4]

Filming began on March 3, 2013 in New York City.[5] Producers invited author Block to the set to watch filming. On the casting of Neeson, Block said, "Readers often ask who'd be my ideal Matt Scudder, and I usually change the subject. But now it's safe to tell you that, ever since I saw him in Michael Collins, Neeson has been up at the top of my personal Scudder wish list. I couldn't be happier about either the star or the writer/director, both of them genuine artists and brilliant professionals. My book's in good hands."[6]

The film was completed on October 8, 2013 and classified by the MPAA as rated R for "strong violence, disturbing images, language, and brief nudity".[7] On October 18, 2013, Block tweeted that he had seen the film and revealed producers were aiming for a September 2014 release.[8] On January 30, 2014, it was announced the film would be released on September 19, 2014.[9]


Box office[edit]

The film was released on September 19, 2014. It earned $428,000 from Thursday night from 1,918 theaters and $4.7 million from 2,712 theaters during its opening day.[10][11] It debuted at number two at the box office on its opening weekend earning $13.1 million behind The Maze Runner ($32.5 million).[12]

Critical response[edit]

A Walk Among the Tombstones has received generally positive reviews from critics. Critics praised the film's cast, especially Neeson's performance, and Frank's direction and screenplay. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 65%, based on 143 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2 out of 10. The site's consensus reads, "A Walk Among the Tombstones doesn't entirely transcend its genre clichés, but it does offer Liam Neeson one of his more compelling roles in recent memory, and that's often enough."[13] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[14]

Richard Roeper gave the film a B+ rating, calling the film "a stylish and smart thriller".[15]


  1. ^ "A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (15)". British Board of Film Classification. September 3, 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014) - Box Office Mojo". September 19, 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Jochimsen, Tino "Liam Neeson’s 'A Walk Among the Tombstones' will be huge" MoviePilot, April 23rd, 2013
  4. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike "Liam Neeson Takes ‘A Walk Among The Tombstones’ In Production Deal With Exclusive Media And Cross Creek Pictures" Deadline Hollywood, May 17, 2012
  5. ^ Chtiwood, Adam "Production Begins on Scott Frank’s A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Starring Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, and Ruth Wilson" Collider, March 3rd, 2013
  6. ^ Bloom, Dan "Liam Neeson Takes 'Walk Among the Tombstones'" The Wrap, April 11th, 2013
  7. ^ "A Walk Among the Tombstones Production Update" Movie Insider, October 9th, 2013
  8. ^ Block, Lawrence (18 October 2013). "Saw #AWalkAmongTheTombstones today. Liam Neeson brilliant as Scudder, Scott Frank script and direction tops. Set for September release.". Twitter. Retrieved 2014-09-19. 
  9. ^ "Universal Dates Crimson Peak, Ouija, Pitch Perfect 2 and More!". ComingSoon.net. 2014-01-30. Retrieved 2014-05-30. 
  10. ^ Anita Busch (September 19, 2014). "Box Office: ‘Maze Runner’ Off To Good Start With $1.1M, ‘Tombstones’ Takes In $480K – Late Night Numbers". Deadline.com. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ Scott Mendelson (September 20, 2014). "Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Sprints To $11.25M, 30+ Weekend". Forbes. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  12. ^ Scott Mendelson (September 21, 2014). "Box Office: 'Maze Runner' Races To $32.5M Weekend, Kevin Smith's 'Tusk' Bombs". Forbes. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  13. ^ A Walk Among the Tombstones at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ A Walk Among the Tombstones at Metacritic
  15. ^ "Walk Among the Tombstones Review". Richard Roeper. Retrieved 2014-09-20. 

External links[edit]