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film review

Liam Neeson, left, as Matt Scudder, an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law.Atsushi Nishijima

Liam Neeson – large of shoulder, gruff of voice, kind of gaze – continues his late-career series of action roles, this time as Matthew Scudder, the protagonist of Lawrence Block's long-running, New York-set detective-novel series.

Set in the late nineties, the story sees Scudder, a recovering alcoholic and ex-cop, hired by a drug dealer to find the men who abducted his wife. Scudder is helped out by a homeless teen, T.J. (Brian (Astro) Bradley), who's steeped in the novels of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.

They soon learn that two sicko vigilantes have been capturing and doing bad things to drug dealers' dearests. Although overplotted and underexplained, the movie is rich in memorable lairs: Scudder's minimalist, brown drab walk-up, the fat-padded furniture and dark matte walls of a nouveau-riche drug dealer (spoiled by a tacky nude of his wife) and an Eastern European mobster's suburban home with Laura Ashley wallpaper and family photos in gilt-edged frames.

With its musty, retro atmosphere, A Walk Among the Tombstones brings to mind Margaret Atwood's prose poem about the juncture of noir and decor, In Love with Raymond Chandler: "Not because of the mangled bodies and the marinated cops and hints of eccentric sex, but because of his interest in furniture."