Honest Thief

Review by Rich Cline | 2/5

Honest Thief
dir Mark Williams
scr Steve Allrich, Mark Williams
prd Mark Williams, Myles Nestel, Tai Duncan, Craig Chapman, Jonah Loop
with Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Anthony Ramos, Jeffrey Donovan, Robert Patrick, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Devon Diep, Herlin Navarro, James Milord, Lewis D Wheeler, Jose Gonsalves
release US 16.Oct.20,
UK 23.Oct.20
20/US 1h39

patrick courtney ramos

Is it streaming?

Walsh and Neeson
With that blandly slick style that's very easy to watch, this crime thriller builds up its head of steam slowly before reaching the usual action beats. The filmmakers borrow every single element from genre cinema, without even a cursory nod to authenticity. Thankfully, Liam Neeson brings these gruff old tough guy characters to life without breaking a sweat, adding textures and interest to even the corniest scene.
In Boston, gentleman criminal Tom (Neeson) has committed 12 bank robberies without leaving a single clue behind. Even his cheeky girlfriend Annie (Walsh) doesn't suspect anything. Not wanting to lie to her, he has decided to turn himself in, on his own terms, to FBI Agent Baker (Patrick). But Baker hands the case to colleagues Hall and Nivens (Ramos and Courtney), who immediately plot to steal the cash. When things go wrong, they opt to frame Tom for murder and then target Annie. Clearly they don't know that they shouldn't mess with this guy.
Hall has a brief crisis of conscience as Nivens coerces him to go along with this violent plan. Of course he's just as complicit but, since he protests here and there, filmmaker Mark Williams paint him as sympathetic. These kinds of cheap nods at complexity only highlights how shallow this script is. Especially bad is Tom's melodramatic sob story about his past. And the sentimentality that swirls up in the final act might be squirm-inducing if it weren't so predictable.

Neeson's growly persona is perfect for this character, remaining almost believable even when he's running, shooting and taking on beefy hulks half his age. He's never anything less than heroic. Walsh's general demeanour throughout this adventure is disbelief at Tom's derring-do, but her role is more fun than most girlfriends in these kinds of movies. Courtney and Ramos have fun playing these vile macho dirtbags. And as Baker's sidekick, Donovan provides the moral compass as well as random side gags involving his ex's adorable dog.

Without a single original moment, even this movie's most frenetic action feels dull. Neeson is so good at playing nice but pathologically resourceful middle-aged men pushed to the brink that many viewers won't even notice how vacuous this story is. But it's so relentlessly gratuitous that it becomes increasingly forgettable even while its running at full speed. If only there was some pulpy fun to be had while watching it. Instead, it's so straight-faced that we want to laugh.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 13.Oct.20

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© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall