At 62, Liam Neeson has become a late-blooming action hero. Most people will go to see this new film assuming it will be like the three Taken films, or his latest potboiler, Non-Stop. The preview for AWATT may give this impression, but the reality is very different.
The film is based on a novel by Lawrence Block – a prolific series-book writer under his own name and at least nine other names nom-de-plumes – and features Block fans’ favorite character, ex-cop and unlicensed P.I., Matt Scudder. (Spoiler alert: This story is only the 10th in an 18-novel series; so regardless of the perils, the character must survive.)
As pure Film Noir, this is well-directed and fits the mold. It’s dark and brooding. The character is a damaged hero. He operates in NYC and uses his old badge to get people to talk to him. He doesn’t carry a gun, so don’t expect a lot of shooting – at least not till the end.
Scudder doesn’t get in a lot of fights, either, despite what you might believe from the preview – which gives away just about every thing in this paper-thin plot there is to give away. If you watch the preview, you might want to cover your eyes and hum real loud; otherwise there isn’t much point to watching the film at all because you will have seen the entire storyline in one minute. And given the quality of the storyline, that one minute is all it deserves.
The plot is weak. The hunt for the “bad guys” isn’t much of a hunt, since there’s no mystery about who they are. Early in the movie their faces are clouded or blurred. But later, they’re just out there in full view. The alleged “mystery” isn’t a mystery at all, but chronicles Scudder’s doggedly following the trail until the rough and tumble fight scene at the end. But there’s no suspense about the ending – at least not if you’ve read this review, seen the preview, or have an IQ over 50.
The sub-plot about a homeless child who partners with Scudder doesn’t add any humor or intelligence, although it’s clear this is what the film’s makers intended. Instead, it’s all a dead end street, which is what this series promises to be – if it even goes beyond being a one-off.
Rated 2.0 out of 4.0 reasons to enjoy the preview and forego the movie ticket.