Liam Neeson reprises his hangdog action-hero routine as Matt Scudder, an ex-cop and recovering alcoholic, in Scott Frank's plodding 1990s-set adaptation of one of Lawrence Block's crime novels.
Neeson excels at this kind of role. No-one else combines world-weariness and laconic Celtic charm in quite the way he does. The former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens also registers strongly as a neurotic drug trafficker who hires Scudder to track down his wife's kidnappers.
The film portrays grimy, late-1990s Brooklyn in atmospheric fashion, throwing in shots of run-down tenements, graffiti-strewn walls, disused parking lots and sprawling cemeteries. The plotting is less assured. It doesn't help that Scudder needs to take time-outs to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings whenever the action is heating up.
Nor does the strangely sentimental treatment of his friendship with a TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley), a young street kid who could have stumbled out of a Charlie Chaplin movie. They're up against camp but very vicious serial killers who like to torture and garrotte their victims. The twist here is that they target drug dealers, kidnapping their nearest and dearest and lopping off limbs until ransoms are paid up.Reuse content