Film: A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014)

A Walk Among the Tombstones @ www.cinemascream.co.uk

Despite having some real pluses A Walk Among the Tombstones doesn’t quite make up a satisfying whole.  Based around a solid genre tale of kidnapping and criminals, and featuring suitably neat dialogue and some genuinely sinister goings-on (the appearance of a third person in an early scene is one of the most simply chilling moments in recent memory), the film goes in the right direction but is severely hampered by having just too many characters.  By my count there are at least four characters that could just be a much more satisfying two; a saving that could also spare us from a fair number of tedious moments or maybe feature some women who aren’t being stuffed into fridges.

Another problem is Liam Neeson himself.  He is a great actor but by now, after punching numerous people in numerous countries, he just doesn’t look like a guy who might fail.  A different actor and 20 minutes less could have made this a must-see.

Film: Starred Up (2014)

I’m a big fan of genre cinema.  In many ways it tells us more about the reality of situations than more naturalistic works but in the case of Starred Up the drama is so involving, thanks mainly to the strong performances by Ben Mendelsohn and Jack O’Connell, that when the generic prison movie elements do surface they disrupt rather than drive proceedings.  But there is still plenty to like here because the central thrust of the movie shines through bringing moments of progress that feel like surfacing for air and a constrained tender note that is perfectly realised.