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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Worried Mind

A Walk
Among the Tombstones

Plot Overview

New York City, 1991. With police chatter on the radio in the back­ground, a car pulls over and let's out a man. “You need some help, partner?” asks the driver. “Don't worry your pretty little spic head off,” Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) replies, then he enters a cop-friendly bar, flashes his badge, and is set up with a line of shots.

Presently, the place is robbed. Off-duty Matt follows the perps in hot pursuit. A civilian girl is killed when a bullet “takes a bounce.” Matt gets a commen­dation, but he quits the force with a guilty conscience (“I was drunk”) and joins Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

New York City, 1999. He's working as an unlicensed investigator now. People do him favors; he investigates for them as a return favor. (That way he's not being paid, I suppose.) He reluc­tantly takes on the kid­nap case of a drug traf­ficker's wife but has second thoughts about helping the dopers. However, the kidnappers are worse than the dopers, so he comes back to catch them at their serial business. They've kid­napped a young girl (“She's 14 yrs. old, 14”) this time—these guys don't return their victims alive—and it gives Matt a chance to complete Steps 8 & 9 of his AA program, to “Make direct amends wherever possible,” if not to the family of the dead girl then to prevent the loss of a child to another family.


On the surface it would seem Scudder a poor prospect for helping anybody, but the dopers aren't going to the cops—one of the reasons he's chosen. He is unlicensed, his expired police badge gives him as much authority “as the mail­man,” he's working alone—except for an African-American home­less kid named TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley) who insinuates him­self into the case—, his computer skills are so lacking he needs TJ's help in the library to peruse old issues of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, his make­shift team of dopers can't shoot worth squat, and although he him­self can handle a gun, he'll have his hands full delivering two bags of money. Further­more, as TJ will point out, he doesn't even got a cool detective name like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. He's up against three guys, one of whom is “totally creepy,” and “the other two, they're not human.” On the positive side, he is serious about AA whose steps are intoned in the back­ground during an action scene, which include #3 & 11: Making “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we under­stand Him, praying only for know­ledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” That would be consistent with, (Psalm 91:2) “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”Visionary Maria Valtorta records a certain conver­sation of Jesus meeting Gamaliel at the Banquet of Joseph of Arimathea: “I say: a man is a man. A mission is beyond man. But man, invested with a mission, becomes capable of accom­plishing it as a super­man, when through a holy life, he has God as his friend.” Through Matt's humility in the AA plan and with God's help, he can do the humanly impossible. Humanly speaking, his method is: “patience, instinct, blind luck mostly.”

The dangers he must overcome in the movie are the same ones as in the psalm above: (Psalm 91:3) “Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” The cemetery grounds keeper Jonas Loogan (Olafur Darri Olafsson) raises pigeons, and he catches Matt trapped in a shed. TJ is a “sickler”: he has sickle cell anemia, which the nurse assures Matt gives him immunity from (“the noisome pestilence”) Malaria.

(Psalm 91:4) “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” My neighbor pointed out this morning that the white wild turkey in her yard was a good mother having kept alive three of the seven turkey chicks (between two mothers), the raccoons having got the rest. There's a protective pigeon seen in the grave­yard pond flotsam in this movie. Matt is protected by God's mother-hen-like care, and also by his own honesty.

(Psalm 91:5) “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” Matt is completely unconcerned with the Y2K disaster scheduled for midnight on Dec. 31 (“People are afraid of all the wrong things”) [Y2K soft­ware analyzer and hard­ware test/fix disks are still avail­able], and he doesn't blink when the bad guy points a gun at him.

(Psalm 91:6) “Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” The mother of the kid­napped girl had woken up one morning with the onset of a paralytic pestilent disease. One of the crazies jumped off a building to his destruction in the middle of the day. Didn't faze Matt at all.

(Psalm 91:7) “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Between the robbers and the dopers and the kidnappers, various assorted bad guys, people were dropping right and left in this movie, but the gun­fire misses Matt.

(Psalm 91:8) “Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” There is a lot of blood and gore in this movie, it just doesn't seem to touch our hero.

Production Values

“A Walk Among the Tombstones” (2014) was directed by Scott Frank who wrote the screen­play based on the novel A Walk Among the Tombstones by Lawrence Block. It stars Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, and David Harbour. Neeson put in his trade­mark top notch performance, and the others weren't bad either. It's rated R for strong violence, disturbing images, language, and brief nudity. Excellent dark cinema­tog­raphy was by Mihai Malaimare Jr. Musical score was composed by Carlos Rafael Rivera.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This story features the detective work of talking to suspects, retracing foot­steps and trying to piece together infor­mation. It's a dark, thank­less, hope­less task except the man has some hidden reserves exposed at an AA meeting. It's not a "nice" Christian film in the sense of enjoyable light enter­tain­ment with a pointed message, but it is edifying in the sense that we see God pulling through for the man who trusts Him in even dark circum­stances. I recommend it for the mature Christian, or for any­one who likes this kind of genre.

Portions of Psalm 91 are also quoted in the 1972 movie “Frenzy” and in the 1942 movie “Mrs Miniver.”

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations are from the King James Version, pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Valtorta, Maria. The Gospel as Revealed to Me. Vol. 1. Translated from Italian by Nicandro Picozzi, M.A., D.D.  Revised by Patrick McLaughlin, M.A. This 2nd English Edition has now replaced the First English Edition, The Poem of the Man-God. WEB.