Liam Neeson’s mission to rebrand himself as a 21st-century Charles Bronson continues apace in the course of this reductive, bone-headed detective yarn, adapted from the Lawrence Block bestseller and lining up tabloid street-scum like so many clay pigeons. Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a taciturn former cop and recovering alcoholic who once killed a kid with a wayward bullet (horrible business; he doesn’t like to talk about it). Now he’s chasing a redemption of sorts: accepting a commission from Dan Stevens’s widowed drug dealer and taking out a pair of preening psycho-killers with extreme prejudice. Neeson’s authoritative air gives this the thin veneer of class, but it remains a tacky, suspect affair. Scott Frank’s film swaggers through a grungy Red Hook neighbourhood where there’s a pigeon coop on every roof and a pair of sneakers strung from every power cable.
Xan Brooks is a freelance writer and broadcaster specialising in cinema