Ever wonder what happens when an idea that isn’t original gets a REALLY good shine job and looks pretty damn good? You get movies like this. It’s an adaptation of a book by the same name. A crime thriller that doesn’t have the most unique premise, but makes the most of what it does have due to good source material and phenomenal casting, mostly from the main character. Is it the greatest crime thriller ever made? No. But it is a pretty damn good movie, and that alone is enough to make me think that it is really worth your time. But I’m being very vague, aren’t I? Let’s talk about it.
The film stars Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, a former cop who works as an unofficial PI. When a man with a questionable occupation comes to him for help, he gets roped into a dark mystery about murder and sexual sadism. Like I said, not the most unique concept, but like with all concept that aren’t especially original, it’s all in the execution.
What I will say first is that this is a very toned-down movie. Now, part of that is due to the fact that it stars Liam Neeson. Critics have made fun of his monotone voice more than once, and while I can’t disagree with that assessment, I will say that it works much better when you have a movie where he is playing a character who is low-key. It’s kind of like Keanu Reeves. His style of acting is bad in all kinds of movies, but then you see him in movies like John Wick and Constantine, and you realize that he is actually really good, in the right setting. The thing that really sets this movie apart from the rest of the movies in this category is the acting. There are a lot of very good performances, and from characters you don’t see it coming from.
Aside from Neeson, who definitely owns this film, there is a little sidekick named TJ, played by Brian Bradley. Now, a kid character in a movie you’d think would be REALLY annoying. And here he had the potential to be. But this kid had a lot of personality, and he wasn’t some giddy little upstart. Sure, he is a kid, and he does make trouble, but he is also smart, and has real issues that you get. Both him and Neeson’ character find something in their respective issues. By the end, their bond feels real enough for it to be heart-warming. But never to the point that it feels manipulative. It’s like two guys who figure each other out, even if it doesn’t work out perfectly.
The other nice thing about this movie is that instead of making it a who-dun-it, as you think they will early on, it become a cat-and-mouse game with some really sick scum-fucks who do terrible things. The way they show the players connected in this world does make them eerie and unsettling. But there are still twists about them, even up until the end. You don’t know who is working who, and it will keep you on your toes.
Which brings us to the cinematography. I won’t say that it’s anything special. It gets the job done, though. There are some shots that don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense and seem very out of place. Like the one at the very end of the movie. Still, it works. The same can be said of the score. It’s low-key and relatively sparse.
Not a lot more to say, really. I think that this is a very well-done and well-acted crime thriller. I don’t know if you are into that sort of thing, but if you are, then I think you should check this out. If not, well, you can read this review and take from it what you will.
7 out of 10