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Is it possible to make a boring movie about serial killers? Yes.

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Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones“Crime, drama, mystery”. These are the labels that IMDb uses to describe A Walk Among the Tombstones. They come with certain expectations. “Drama” signals emotional depth and weight. “Crime” makes you think of engaging detective work, the urgency to learn about the truth. And if something is announced as a “mystery”, you’d assume that it’s something that will challenge your intellect, something that will get you on the hook and won’t leave you until it’s solved.

Sadly neither of the expectations is met. This sounds weird, I know. You wouldn’t expect a movie about the chase of kidnappers and serial killers who are on par with the craziest ones in Dexter, to be boring. But it was, to me. Utterly, utterly boring.

I’ve been trying to put my finger on what it is with it that kept me from engaging with it. One aspect is the stakes, or rather the lack of it. It’s not the private detective’s wife who has been abducted. It’s the wife of some unsympathetic drug dealer that you don’t know a lot about or care for. And what is problematic is that you know even less about his wife. She’s just a piece of meat, as they put it in a great discussion on the latest episode of /Filmcast. Not a person.  It’s obvious already in the pretexts, as the body of the victim is slowly and sensually is exposed, as if she was portrayed in a lifestyle magazine. It reminds me a bit of the Dexter signature, but in Dexter it is Dexter’s morning ritual that is on display. Not the suffering of the victims of a serial killer.

It doesn’t help the movie either that Liam Neeson’s detective is such an uninteresting character. He never raises above the stereotype of a lonely, drinking, miserable former cop who turned into a private investigator after something went terribly wrong. Every now and then we see him attend AA meetings, but what they’re supposed to represent I’m not sure of. Perhaps it’s just an excuse for inserting quotes from the twelve steps programme here and there, for no apparent reason. It feels as if they should mean something, correspond to the killings or to how the investigation is proceeding. But I failed to see the connection. It was all empty, like so much else in this movie.

I can’t see any reason why you’d choose to watch this movie when there are so many other movies and TV series in the same area available which are likely to engage, thrill, scare, grip and mystify you way better. Avoid it.

A Walk Among the Tombstones (Scott Frank, US 2014) My rating: 2.5/5

Written by Jessica

September 26, 2014 at 4:43 pm