A Walk Among the Tombstones

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
A Walk Among the Tombstones Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Crime story from skilled director has strong violence.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's world is grim and hopeless -- one in which even good people end up doing bad things from time to time.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Matthew Scudder is a recovering alcoholic who's eight years sober. He helps out a homeless kid by teaching him a few lessons and buying him food and clothes. He regularly attends AA meetings and seems interested in doing the right thing, though he doesn't always succeed; his violent profession sometimes gets the better of him.


A pair of kidnappers abducts two women and a 14-year-old girl. One of the women is shown gagged during the opening credits. In another sequence, the men threaten to slice off one of the woman's breasts (making her choose which one). One woman is chopped into pieces and put into little bags. The girl's fingers are chopped off. Several chases, shoot outs, and fights. The killers use wire around the neck to strangle victims. Plenty of blood is shown. A man commits suicide by jumping from the roof of a building. A young girl is accidentally shot, and a young boy is beaten up.


The killers rip open a woman's clothes, and her breasts are briefly shown. One character has a selection of paintings of naked (topless) women on his wall. A man has a collection of photos taken of a coupe having sex in an apartment across the street; no sensitive body parts are shown.


"F--k" and "s--t" are used several times. "Bitch" is used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character is a recovering alcoholic. In a flashback, he's seen drinking shots in a bar. But in the main story, he's sober and goes to AA meetings. Another character is a drug addict and is seen smoking cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Walk Among the Tombstones is a crime thriller starring Liam Neeson as private investigator Matthew Scudder (a character previously played by Jeff Bridges in 1986's 8 Million Ways to Die). There's lots of gritty violence, including shoot outs, fighting, and blood. Women and teens are kidnapped and terrorized (one is threatened with having one of her breasts sliced off). A boy is beaten up, a young girl is shot, and another young girl is kidnapped. The kidnappers have gruesome ways of disposing with bodies, including chopping one up into bits. Language is strong, including several uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The main character is a recovering alcoholic, eight years sober, who attends AA meetings; he's shown drinking in a flashback. Another major character is a drug addict who smokes cigarettes. Sex is seen in a set of photographs, and topless women are shown in paintings, but there's nothing involving the major characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bycarmanc October 4, 2014

What parents should know

The review doesn't mention that one character also listens to a tape recording of a woman being raped. It's quite horrifying.

The violence is integra... Continue reading
Adult Written bySOFLO September 28, 2014

Sadistic pointless violence against women

The sadistic nature of the violence portrayed against women in this film was so horrific we actually walked out of the movie. There have been many thrillers mad... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah September 20, 2014

A solid matinee.

This would make for a nice matinee. It's a little bit overlong and convoluted, but it's also nicely atmospheric and has a very good final act. The per... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byThe game breakdown September 28, 2014

Violent, well written and dark thriller is a great movie.

I really liked this movie, the plot was interesting, the characters were great and it exceeded my expectations. In this movie, Liam Neeson's role in this m... Continue reading

What's the story?

Eight years ago, New York cop Matt Scudder (Liam Neeson) was drunk during a robbery and the subsequent chase, and it changed him forever. Now, in the movie's present (which is set in 1999), he operates as an unlicensed private detective. A drug dealer (Dan Stevens) hires him to find the men who kidnapped his wife; even though he paid the ransom, they killed her. Scudder hits the streets and starts looking for clues; a homeless kid, T.J. (Brian "Astro" Bradley), occasionally helps. Before long, Scudder discovers that these kidnappers have a specific M.O. -- targeting victims with ready cash who won't call the cops -- and that it's happened at least once before. Unfortunately, they've struck again, kidnapping a 14-year-old girl, and time is running out.

Is it any good?

Screenwriter Scott Frank tells the story with enthusiasm and skill. Frank has made a career of adapting crime novels and thrillers by Elmore Leonard, Philip K. Dick, and James Lee Burke for the screen. He wrote an excellent original thriller and made his directorial debut with The Lookout; A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, adapted from a Lawrence Block novel, is his follow-up. Like a good crime novelist, Frank doesn't necessarily bring anything new to the genre, but he gives it a fresh presentation.

He captures a fine big-city feel with grungy shops and stairwells, as well as luckier, fancier places. Characters flit in and out of the story with the sense that they have lived lives here. Even the standard "cute kid" character of T.J. is handled like an everyday occurrence. Set in 1999, the story includes references to the paranoia of the Y2K computer "virus." The overall sense of dread and rage is strong, even if the movie is too long to be terribly suspenseful.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about A Walk Among the Tombstonesviolence. How much is directed against women? How do these sequences compare with the standard chasing and shooting sequences? How did they all make you feel?

  • How does Scudder being an alcoholic impact the story? How does it affect his character? Does it make him more sympathetic?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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