Film Review: ‘Honest Thief’ (2020)

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Stars: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh and Jai Courtney
Director: Mark Williams
Distributor: Signature Entertainment

“Agent Nivens, I’m coming for you.”

Liam Neeson returns to the big screen with his latest action vehicle – Honest Thief – which, honestly, is great fun. Stretching out to IMAX screenings too, Honest Thief sees Neeson’s Tom – an ageing bank robber – pursue a life of increased morals and honesty once he encounters the love and interest of storage unit manager, Annie (Kate Walsh)… Guess where he ends up hiding the money. For Tom to feel morally cleansed, his only option is to turn himself in to the authorities. Goodbye loving relationship? Maybe. Of course, Tom’s plans take an extravagant U-turn in two instances: FBI Agent Sam Baker (Robert Patrick) dubs him the comical “In-and-Out Bandit” and doesn’t believe him as false confessions seem to be common practice, and then in subsequence, once FBI Agents Nivens (Jai Courtney) and Hall (Anthony Ramos) find that Tom is legit, they attempt to claim the NINE MILLION DOLLAR robbery sum for their own greed. Uh-oh.

Essentially, Honest Thief has all the makings and throwbacks of your typical and classic action thriller: anti-hero; girlfriend caught up in the mess; dirty cops (FBI in this case); money; and the loveable cat-and-mouse concept. You’ve seen it all before, thus making this adventure potentially routine, yet perfectly fine as this outing is quite enjoyable. The mistake people will make going into Honest Thief is thinking it will be another Liam Neeson trend-setting action ride like Taken was.

At this point, we know that Liam Neeson has fully transcended into the same vein as other action stars in the tier of, “Oh sh*t, this guy was a marine. We’re f*cked.” Seagal, basically. Neeson’s Tom was always going to be more than just a thief of small-town banks – he had to have a background, an edge, something that can make him winnable against the bad guy. Jai Courtney’s Agent Niven on the other hand is a fantastic villain in Honest Thief. Courtney works best as a heel, and the evidence in this film further suggests the argument. Niven has the dual-dislikable-factor in that he is despised in both the film and real world. Abusing women may be a cheap, outdated trick though.

With only minimal being wrong in Honest Thief, the only standout is a tonal inconsistency early on. However, this “tonal inconsistency” does gradually transcend from a general ambiance of slightly light and comically dry, to an increase in contextual seriousness once a murder takes place and is timely pinned upon the actions of Neeson’s Tom. Additionally, maybe even wasted away at times, there are thought-provoking arguments and ideas put forward over the reasoning for the theft of substantial amounts of money – argued from either side of the law too.

Ultimately, racing at a classic running time of 90-something minutes, Mark Williams’ Honest Thief is an enthralling thrill ride, reminiscent of your favourite action-thrillers of the 90s.

3 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source, Signature Entertainment, Fair Use

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