In 1991 three men robbed a bar that was known not to charge police officers for their drinks. Matthew Scudder was off duty and drinking at the time. When they shot the barmen he took off after them. He killed two and wounded the third. He also then gave up drinking and the police force.
Now he works as an unlicensed private detective, he does favours for certain people and, in return, they give him a gift. He gets hired by Kenny Kristo, a drug trafficker, whose wife has been kidnapped. He paid the ransom, but they killed her anyway and dumped the body in many small pieces. He wants Scudder to find the men and bring them to him. But as Scudder investigates he discovers that Carrie Kristo was not the first woman murdered and dismembered by these two men.
I went to see this film because I thought it was another Taken-esque film. A man with certain skills, revenge, violence, death. Well, I got all those only in a lot more gritty fashion than Taken. And the violence enacted by the bad guys is depicted in much stronger terms. Trigger warnings are seriously in operation for this film.
In regards to the depiction of women this film is a failure. The only role for women here is that of victim or potential victim. Most of them don’t even get a line, reduced to a series of screams as they are tortured.
Still, none of that violence is played for titillation. So I suppose that’s one good point?
Overall the film is what you’d expect from the poster, if, as I already mentioned, a little darker and more realistic1 than you might expect. I enjoyed Neeson’s portrayal, and the kid was surprisingly good. All the actors did a good job here. In many ways it feels like a film of the nineties, not just one set then, it has the same violent film as many crime/detective films from then.
If you like dark detective work, and can look past the lack of female characters this is worth a watch. You may have to look away at one or two scenes of violence, but most of it happens off screen. Not that that means you can ignore it.
for a certain value of realism ↩