A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014) – Review

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No, this is not another Taken film, but it does seem close. This film is darker than that franchise, and is an improvement that shows off its star – Liam Neeson’s – immense talent even more. It is an old-school action film, and Neeson is plain and simply awesome.

A Walk Among the Tombstones: Neeson is Matt Scudder, a former cop turned private eye. After first refusing the job, Scudder finally agrees to help a known drug dealer find the men that not only kidnapped his wife, but killed her after the ransom had been paid. Scudder soon learns that this is not the first time the group have done this, and when they kidnap another girl, he sets out to find them and make them pay.

Any review on this film should begin with: Liam Neeson is awesome. There is no denying it. He has been very kick-ass in his film role choices, and he more than deserves all of the roles he has been getting lately – not to mention all of the attention. He is not just a brilliant action-genre actor, but has shown over the years that he can pretty much play any role they throw at him. With A Walk Among the Tombstones, he is more than capable of turning a generic good-guy-bad-guy action film into something more than just entertaining.

However, the film couldn’t be as good as it is without a good script. The story – based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Block – is full of moments of suspense and plot twists that make the finished product more than just shooting and car chases.

The look and feel of the film is gritty and noir-esque, which makes it more interesting. The director Scott Frank (who also wrote the screenplay for the film) hasn’t done as much directing work as he has done writing work, but with the cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr., they have created something striking.

It is not usual for films made from books to be successful, but this one is doing quite well for itself. It has been a long time in the making – since around 2002 – and it was back then said that Harrison Ford was originally going to play the lead. Ford is a great actor too, but the novel’s author had always pictured Neeson among his top choices for the lead character.

Reviews have been adequately positive. There has been much praise for Neeson’s acting, the directing, and the script. The cliche aspects have also been criticised, though its improvements of the story and perfecting of the genre have compensated for this.

Action films have always been popular, and A Walk Among the Tombstones is an action film done right. Parents and guardians might not want to have it on while their kids are in the room – due to the violence, etc. – but it’s nothing overly gory. Enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

Lucy (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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Scarlett Johansson is no longer an unknown name. She has risen to fame with her most notable role arguably as Black Widow in the Marvel series, and is the lead in the new science-fiction action film Lucy. It is clearly not the most scientifically accurate, but is an excellent choice for a purely entertaining film.

Lucy begins with the title character far short of what the trailer revealed her to be. She is not a genius and she does not have ‘special powers’. Instead, she is partying in a Taiwanese night-club, drinking and dancing with no abandon. Her life suddenly turns upside-down when she is kidnapped by an armed gang, and forced to work as a mule, transporting a package of drugs inside of her body. When the deal goes wrong, an attack causes the package to fracture, and the drugs flow into Lucy’s system. Lucy transforms into a warrior with an expanding mental capability (telekinesis, telepathy, superhuman strength, etc.) that rivals anything seen before.

The film is written and directed by Luc Beeson, who has a grand history with this genre. He is probably best known for his work on The Fifth Element (1997), the Transporter franchise (2002 to 2008), and the Taken series (2008 to 2014). He clearly has a firm grip on the genre, and he manages a tight balance between exposition, dialogue, and action.

There is always the annoying distinction between ‘actors’ and ‘sci-fi actors’. There is clearly nothing different about them, but, for some reason, actors are always lumped into one group or the other. Scarlett Johansson has been in many assorted films since she began in 1994, but it has only been in recent years that her popularity has skyrocketed. This is, in large part, due to her role as Black Widow in the Marvel series. She has proved to be more than a sci-fi actress. Morgan Freeman, too, is always an excellent actor who brings credibility to whatever role he plays, and is a wonderful compliment to Scarlett Johansson.

The fight scenes and car chases were believable, and it is cool to see how the film industry has accepted female leads. The rise of heroines instead of damsels in distress is refreshing, and Scarlett Johansson has been at the forefront of this movement.

The only negative thing about this film, would be the lack of scientific realism. It was in an interview that Luc Beeson described the beginning process of Lucy, and how it took ten years to become a reality once he heard about a scientific theory that humans only use ten percent of their brain. It is true that it is a good premise for a science-fiction film, but this theory has been widely debunked, now openly referred to as a myth.

Reviews from critics and audiences have been mixed, with both sides arguing the same above points.

Overall, this film is not very scientifically accurate (even in theory), but it is an entertaining sci-fi action film.

4 out of 5 stars