A walk among the gore

Based on Lawrence Block’s series of mystery novels, “A Walk Among the Tombstones” (R, Universal) stars Liam Neeson as an ex-NYPD cop who now works as an unlicensed private investigator. The look, style and smarts of this thriller seem like such a refreshingly toned-down departure from the outlandishness of Neeson’s “Taken” franchise that it’s all the more dismaying when the film shifts radically into a sadistic tableau of blood and gore. What has been a relatively sophisticated, quietly effective vehicle for Neeson at his best veers into the kind of hyperbolic nonsense of Neeson at his worst. Contains strong violence, disturbing images, profanity and brief nudity.