Lead Actors: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour
Producer: Tom Armbrust
We meet Matt Scudder in the early 90s when he is an active police officer in New York city. It seems we first meet him in a car in the middle of a bribe with someone, but this is not clear.
Anyway, once he gets out of the car, we see Liam Neeson with full facial hair, and his hair is grown out bushy.
He walks into a bar and orders two shots and a coffee. We see him walk a bit sloppily to a booth, then drink the shots and coffee and reads the paper and suddenly a robber comes in the bar and shoots the bartender.
Then Neeson chases after the robber and his cronies and takes all three of them out.
On that day though, his life changes forever. Later on we learn exactly why. But, before any secrets are given out, we meet him about 9 years later - clean shave, clean haircut and 9-years sober. Here, he is more clean cut and closer to the character, Ra's Al Ghul he played in Christopher Nolan's first batman.
Scudder also is no longer a police man but a private investigator, still in New York.
While he is eating in yet another great-looking diner (the kind that make a filmmaker want to out there with someone who knows the area and just eat and talk movies all day), one of his acquaintances from the AA meetings approaches him and asks him if he wants to do a job.
Turns out his brother needs an investigator to find out who murdered his girlfriend. Turns out this man's brother is also a drug dealer, turns out this man's girlfriend was chopped up and put into several tiny bags by the nutty criminals Neeson will spend the rest of the movie hunting down.
To make a long story short, our flawed hero Scott Rudder has a bit of a savior complex and once he finds out how the kidnapped woman was treated, and packaged, he decides to take the job, despite the seedy nature of his client and how it conflicts with his present-day sobriety.
One thing is for sure though, as we watch Scudder descend into Hell and lead an underground man hunt: he is as tough as any of the other bastards! Deranged kidnappers, gang bangers and even D.E.A. agents all get their fair share of rough treatment from Neeson's Scudder.
This makes for a great, gritty movie. In fact, we are treated to some of the snarl that Neeson displayed in an earlier movie he made called, "The Grey", wherein he fought wolves with his bare hands.
Although Scudder hits as hard as he is beaten with crow bars and gun handles and tasers and the like, and he never loses his sense of humor or his affinity for those less fortunate than him.
Enter the comic relief and a key plot point at the end of the movie - TJ. - a homeless youth with sickle cell anemia who ends up being Neesam's assistant.
Who Would Like it and Why
I think this movie had a great feel to it. By that I mean the lighting was right, the cinematography was right, and it gave us a sense what it might be like to live in these older, tight-knit communities that vary in income. For a life-long west coaster, this is all very intriguing, albeit a bit claustrophobic at times.
Liam Nesson fans get to see him growl, beat up criminals, shoot people and confidently set up a rendezvous for exchanging "money for the girl".
Also, everything about this movie gave it the feel of a 1970s cop drama
The cinematographer managed to keep everything dark enough so that there was a constant sense of foreboding throughout. Again, though, Scudder's humor and exchanges with TJ dulled the pain.
Who Might not Like it and Why
Well, there are some very tense moments when women are brutalized. Trophy wives of drug dealers receive the most punishment in this movie.
Not because of revenge from rival dealers, but something much more sinister. One can argue that even though these women made their beds when they chose to date or marry drug dealers, they seem to receive a lot of punishment that may be should be reserved for the dealers themselves.
Liam as a poorly shaven, whiskey swilling cop was fun. TJ and Neeson's exchanges were also well-written and fun. Also, there was some fine character work as Neeson zeroes in on his main suspects, who were perhaps the best actors of all.
Three Mike and Ikes.