Liam Neeson plays a former policeman and recovering alcoholic in director Scott Frank’s sometimes interesting and always unpleasant serial killer drama. Neeson’s Matt Scudder, after accidentally killing a civilian during a shootout, has gone rogue since his days on the force. Eight years have passed, and while he’s quit drinking, he’s doing some pretty unsavory jobs as a private investigator. He gets pulled into the world of a drug dealer after his wife has been kidnapped, and a lot of bad, bad things start happening. Neeson is very good in the film, but the script, written by Frank and based on the novel by Lawrence Block, has too many cardboard characters. Worst of all is a homeless kid sidekick (played by Astro), a character that makes no sense and is completely out of place. There’s also the strung-out heroin addict, the whispery-voiced abductor of women, and the creepy guy who tends the cemetery and keeps pigeons on the roof … and he knows something. I liked Neeson here, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the character again. Hopefully, the next film with this character—if there is one—trims the fat.

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