Saturday, October 31, 2020

‘Honest Thief’ Movie Review – Spotlight Report


Honest Thief is your standard Liam Neeson film, which is to say it has Liam Neeson as a tough guy dispensing justice with some special skills.

Tom Dolan (Neeson) is a former Marine who uses his explosives knowledge to rob banks. When he meets Annie (Kate Walsh) he decides to clean up his act, but when he hands himself in to the FBI, he’s betrayed by some greedy agents who decide to snag his loot for themselves. Dolan has to clear his name for the crimes they commit while protecting Annie, who is a witness to some of their crimes.

This is about as no-frills as a movie gets but, if you’re going to do no-frills, you’d better hope the basics are decent. To be blunt: There’s not much to recommend here. It’s not bad, it hits some of its beats fairly competently and there’s some satisfaction seeing the odious agent Nivens (Jai Courtney) receive his comeuppance, but there’s little tension and no surprises.

The problem here is that because we need to be shown Dolan’s a tough guy, he can’t be portrayed in situations where he’s truly scared. Because we (the audience) live through the protagonist, this means you’re never scared either, and this robs the film of any real tension. We’re also hingeing our belief on Dolan’s love for Annie being his motivation, but their scenes together are a tad perfunctory. On top of this, there’s a noticeable cheapness to the production, with some effects so bad they look as though they were added by an ad-supported phone app.

I can’t really see any audience being entirely satisfied by this, as it’s not violent enough for the action crowd and not extreme enough for the ironic Neeson appreciation crowd. It has a very simple plot with no major twists and turns and none of the gigglesome retribution a Neeson flick promises. If it came on one lazy Saturday evening as you were drinking beer in your underpants, you could watch it without any real regret, but you probably won’t remember it either.

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