As discussed in my One Mann’s Movies review of “Cold Pursuit”, Liam Neeson has had a rather rocky PR road of late. But – unlike Kevin Spacey – he is clearly not being put on the naughty step by Hollywood, since he is filming/announced for five other features at the time of writing. His latest release – “Honest Thief” – has Mark Williams directing and co-writing (with Steve Allrich), and sees Neeson back on VERY familiar territory in an exciting and sometimes violent thriller.
The nice concept behind the story sees Tom (Liam Neeson) as a hugely successful bank robber meeting the love of his life in Annie (Kate Walsh) and committing to jack it all in for love. Furthermore, not wishing to have to live with the deception and guilt of his hidden life, he determines to hand himself over to the FBI, along with the $9 million stolen cash, in return for a lenient sentence.
There’s a problem though: he’s about the fifteenth person calling the FBI claiming to be the “In and Out burgler”, so no-one wants to take him seriously. Boston area chief Sam Baker (Robert Patrick – the “Terminator” cop!) and his deputy Meyers (Jeffrey Donovan) casually put it on the “to-do” pile of agents Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Hall (Anthony Ramos).
The best laid plans run off the rails in a big way though when Nivens and Hall investigate and find that Tom is the real deal.
The concept here works nicely for a thriller, but the rest of the script is so formulaic that it’s fairly and squarely a ‘park your brain in the foyer’ movie. For several of the actions and motives going on here, suspension of disbelief was required . Even given the limited competition in 2020, the script is in no way going to trouble the Academy.
All that being said, Mark Williams has put together a tight and well-executed movie, not outstaying its welcome at only 99 minutes long. Even with the 15 year age difference, Neeson and Walsh make a believable couple (given that Neeson looks pretty good for his 68 years) and the chemistry between them is great. And for a pretty ‘small’ movie, the supporting cast is pretty impressive.
Another standout for me was the cinematography by Shelly Johnson (whose had a busy year with the latest “Bill and Ted” and “Greyhound” under his belt). Boston – always a great movie location – looks spectacular, and the framing of the car chase action impressed me.
For me, there was only one really dodgy element of the movie: the special effects used in a house explosion/fire. The budget clearly didn’t stretch to using practical effects! More work on Adobe “After Effects” (or similar) was required here!
Is Honest Thief worth seeing? – My expectations for this movie were pretty low. But I’m pleased to say that they were exceeded. Is it a masterpiece? No. Will I readily remember much about it in six month’s time? No. But in rather a desert of new releases, this one was at least entertaining and I think it’s worth the ticket price for a long overdue night out at the flicks. I’m willing to guess that my feelings were partially influenced by the sheer joy of being back in a cinema again… so I will temper my rating perhaps by a star here.
Review by bob-the-movie-man