Directed by Scott Frank, Written by Scott Frank (screenplay), Lawrence Block (novel)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Adam David Thompson

I must admit, while I am obviously aware of him, I have not seen a lot of Liam Neeson in recent memory. I guess he stars in the sorta flicks I don’t normally watch. Deciding not to read a snippet about the plot, I was ready to really go into this one stark fuckin’ naked without a clue what to expect. While I didn’t have low expectations, they weren’t high either; neutral would be a good description. That said… I feel like I got much more than I was expecting. Every film should be watched going in blind to get the most out of it really. Expectations really can ruin an otherwise fantastic movie. This falls short of fantastic, but it is a solid revenge/thriller flick that really gets its hands bloody.

Being an ex-alcoholic add’s to Neeson’s character; the opening scene revealing the catalyst for his decision to get onto the wagon. His character isn’t exactly bubbling with personality, but he is far from a flat lead character. He speaks very frankly and doesn’t dance around the trees when being brutally honest. He also seems to be almost incapable of emotion. His actions however say otherwise. Early in the film he befriends a homelesss young man, which is where some of the humour comes from, as well as more unpredicability. However, this movie is far from a comedy.

The first thing that hooked me into this flick was the dark gritty atmosphere it had, paired with an equally dark, yet subtle classical score. This combo really set the scene for the bleak and dark events that make this movie stand out from other, less interesting ‘revenge’ films. The dark tone of the entire movie; every street Neeson walks down, some bathed in grey, others covered completely in graffiti, creates an atmosphere that really sucks you into a living, breating world. I found myself on the edge of my seat for the final act,  regardless of the fact that the killer’s identities are revealed early. In doing this, the movie takes the risk of turning the story into a simple, inevitable showdown between Neeson and his prey… Like a majority of ‘super-hero’ movies. However, the card is played well, as you get a good look into the psyche of the villain he is trying to hunt down, making for a final act that is filled with suspence. This isn’t a ‘who dunnit’ type film, this is all about revenge. What was explorered briefly, but in my opinion should have been expanded upon, is what revenge can be exactly, especially when the hunter isn’t personally involved.

Neeson is a perfect fit for this chatacter. There is nothing groundbreaking to be found here in terms of the type of movie this is, but it comes packed with an extremely immersive narrative, and the fact that he is acting on others’ behalf further creates complexity in the story. Again, despite revealing the culprit and the sick fantasies made reality not far into the film, these twisted fantasies are so sick and therefore unpredictable that each moment could be a bang without warning. The final act especially was extremely tense, and given the unpredictable nature of Neeson’s nemesis, anything could happen! The final act could be compared to a simple superhero vs villain ending if one was to look at it from an extremely simple standpoint. However, it proves to be far more interesting than such a film, with just a few twists to keep you guessing, not to mention a few more laughs for those with twisted sense of humour.

Moderately paced, with dastardly deeds mixed with some extremely warped dark humour, this is an above-average flick, if though somewhat predictable. There were many surprises along the way, but once you get into the groove of the movie you can tell where it is going to end; however, you will have no idea how it will arrive there, and this is one of many aspects that makes this film worth watching. The action scenes are especially well done; raw and gritty like the rest of the film.

3/5 – A tad predicatable for some, and while the story was interesting, making watching it rewarding, it is far from original. A decent take on countless movies done previous, though with a more sadistic and unpredicatable twist.

written by the epilepticmoondancer