You know what we could all use right now during these crazy times? A Liam Neeson action/thriller! Unfortunately, “Honest Thief” is low in both the action and thrills departments — and is a middle of the road entry in his specialty genre.
Neeson plays Tom Carter. He admits early on that he’s robbed a dozen banks over the past decade. Total take? $9 million. So that’s not where the suspense lies. Tom wants to come clean to authorities in exchange for a short sentence (he’ll return all the money) so he can start a guilt-free life with new girlfriend Annie (Kate Walsh). But she has no idea what he’s been up to… yet.
“Honest Thief” is written and directed by “Ozark” co-creator Mark Williams. I haven’t watched that Jason Bateman/Laura Linney Netflix series, but it’s received “Non-Stop” acclaim since debuting in 2016. From what I know about it the show also seems to be a bit more complex than what we get in this movie.
The first act is deadly slow — slower than any Neeson action installment to date. Scenes are stretched beyond their limits, especially since they’re mostly comprised of conversations among a total of six characters. We finally get a slightly better-than-average car chase through Boston. But it’s one of only a handful of action sequences in the entire movie (there are even fewer shootouts).
This is supposed to be a “thinking man’s (or woman’s) Liam Neeson thriller”. The problem is— there isn’t much to think about. It’s tough to buy into this story emotionally when believability is thrown out the window. This strategy does sometime work in Neeson films. We’re having so much fun that it’s easy to ignore the “this would only happen in a movie” moments. But that’s just not the case here.
Neeson tries his best with the sub-par material. Carter’s dynamic with an FBI agent played by Jeffrey Donovan is the film’s most substantial.
And at least he’s back in his comfort zone (following this Summer’s disastrous comedy, “Made in Italy”). Next-up for Neeson: the action/thriller “The Ice Road”, which is scheduled to come out sometime next year. It’s about a rescue mission over a frozen ocean to save trapped miners and was shot in Manitoba during the pandemic. I’m Taken already.
LCJ GRADE: C
Running Time: 98 min.