It is a very fine movie, and not necessarily to be thought of as a version of Taken 4 or whatever.
Summary : an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator operating just outside the law. When Scudder reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens) hunt down the men who kidnapped and then brutally murdered his wife, the PI learns that this is not the first time these men have committed this sort of twisted crime…nor will it be the last. Blurring the lines between right and wrong, Scudder races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.
Written by: Alicia Glass
Release Date: September 18, 2014
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Scott Frank
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dan Stevens, David Harbour, Boyd Holbrook
MPAA Rating: R
Based on: the Scudder books by Lawrence Block, retired policeman turned private eye Matt Scudder gets hired by a drug lord to discover the identity of her murderers!
So Matt (Liam Neeson) is a man with a past. The hell you say. Back in 1991, he’s still a beat cop, sitting there slamming shots along with his coffee at his favorite rundown restaurant, when some local toughs decide to get rough with the owner. One screaming-bullet-death later, and Scudder is drunkenly lurching out the door to gun down the kids who just murdered his friend. Two of the toughs are easily taken out, but the third insists on running, even with a bullet in his leg, and Scudder is giving chase down a busy street, both their guns belching potential death. Nine years later, where the movie officially begins, Matt is telling the story at his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, claiming after that he quit drinkin, ‘cuz “it just wasn’t fun anymore”. There is a bit more to the origin story, but we don’t get that til later in the movie.
So it’s some nine years later and Scudder is a retired policeman, still flashing his badge but as a private investigator now. After some convincing, a drug kingpin manages to hire Matt to find out who murdered his wife. Kingpin over there had his wife snatched up, got the ransom demand, went through the rigamarole of paying the ransom demand, only to find what was left of his wife neatly packaged in what looked like contraband. So Matt dubiously begins investigating, picking up a street smart orphan called TJ (Brian “Astro” Bradley) from the library along the way to help him. And what Matt discovers, to his horror, is that Kingpin’s wife is merely another woman victim in a line of torture murders for fun that some apparent former DEA consultants are enjoying. Putting all his hard won skills to use, Matt has to race against time when a young daughter of yet another druglord is kidnapped, in the middle of his investigation!
It is a very fine movie, and not necessarily to be thought of as a version of Taken 4 or whatever. Liam Neeson is always great at these hard-boiled leader roles, and this film is no exception. The only sad part is, like the books, the movie appears to be a kind of one-shot-murder-mystery deal, which is to say, once you’ve seen it and know who all the villains are and have enjoyed the final showdown in a glorious hail of bullets, there’s no real reason to watch it a second time. They do leave it open for more Matt Scudder sequels, so here’s hoping we get to see Neeson being all badass once again!