HONEST THIEF: Another Notch in Liam Neeson’s Belt

Although Liam Neeson is a great actor overall, he seems to take roles like this quite often, regardless of how good or bad the script may be. From TAKEN (2008) to NON-STOP (2014), his string of passable action flicks has actually gotten to be a little much for me. Sure, he’s a likeable actor and if a decent director is on board, the movie itself can be fun, but I just want to see him do more films like WIDOWS (2018) or SILENCE (2016). He has incredible range but doesn’t choose to show it in films like this. Now playing in theatres, HONEST THIEF (2020) is his latest outing in this genre and just like many of his other films, it’s a fun, passable drama/action flick. Here’s why it may be worth a watch, but easily skippable in theatres.

After spending many years bank robbing and stealing millions of dollars, Tom (Liam Neeson) has decided to live a normal life with his newfound love in Annie (Kate Walsh). Being double-crossed by two officers as he is about to confess and do his time, he is sprung back into action. Needing to both protect himself, his girlfriend, and anyone else who may be in the line of fire, he will stop at nothing to turn himself in, while also taking down who needs to be stopped. There are a few moments of excitement, but HONEST THIEF is much more of a drama than an action film. 

I appreciated the fact that director Mark Williams had a very gentle hand in making some emotional scenes, but there were a little too many of them, making the movie as a whole feel slightly too sentimental. The mannerisms of the character of Tom felt like Neeson’s performance in TAKEN, but he is a much calmer character here, which didn’t really fit the movie. What I will commend is the fact that I actually bought into the chemistry between Neeson and Walsh, which at least had me caring whether or not they lived or died. Other than these few positives, this movie does drag on its very thin premise. There were many times where I found the movie losing sight of the direction it was going in.

I normally don’t like to put suggestions for how a film could’ve been improved in a review, but Tom is a character who had served in the army and never once was there a flashback to those days. Flashbacks are absolutely not necessary to a film by any means, but I found myself wishing I could’ve appreciated how he was able to accomplish certain things, presently. It’s possible that Steve Allrich and Mark Williams’ screenplay meant to keep audiences in the dark on certain things, but I feel that the excessive amount of explanatory dialogue in certain scenes was much weaker than if they had shown what he was saying about his past. That’s a personal suggestion and nitpick, so many viewers probably won’t feel that way, but it’s how I was seeing each and every one of the expository scenes.

In the end, HONEST THIEF cares about the core characters and the performances by Neeson and Walsh are both fun to watch. I haven’t seen Jeffrey Donovan on the big screen in a while and I particularly liked his portrayal as one of the officers. His character added a needed layer of depth to the film. There’s absolutely nothing memorable about this film in terms of praise or recommendation, but I have to admit that I enjoyed myself in the theatre. It’s a fun little drama with a few spurts of action. If that sounds like something you can sit back and enjoy, I say check it out.

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