Liam Neeson delivers another generic actioner with the brainless Honest Thief. This time around he’s a former bank robber trying to make amends, but gets double-crossed by unscrupulous FBI agents. The plot is mind-numbingly simple with no surprises. A lazy script has the characters running amok in Boston with law enforcement bumbling like Keystone Cops. A bizarre subplot involving a dog adds to the inanity. Honest Thief is a forgettable mess with little entertainment value.
The film opens with a montage. Tom Carter (Liam Neeson) is seen drilling through and setting explosives in bank vaults. He works methodically as a news reporter’s voice over narrates his backstory. The “In-and-Out Bandit” has struck again. The elusive bank robber has stolen nine million dollars from small banks over a nine year period. We then see Tom meeting the flirtatious Annie (Kate Walsh) at her job managing a storage facility.
A year later, Tom has fallen in love with Annie. She has no idea about his criminal past. Tom decides he must give himself up for them to truly have a life together. Tom calls the Boston FBI office, but is taken for a prankster by the lead agent, Sam Baker (Robert Patrick). He decides to send two underlings (Jai Courtney & Anthony Ramos) to investigate Tom’s claim. When they realize Tom is telling the truth, the corrupt partners decide to frame him and take the stolen loot.
Honest Thief fails its premise with a ludicrous script. It’s entirely believable that a bank robber finds love and wants to pay for his crimes. But Tom’s plan, a supposedly brilliant criminal, is laughably amateur. Tom picking up a phone and calling the FBI to confess is the first head-scratching moment. He has no lawyer, gets nothing in writing, and makes a demand for leniency that no prosecutor would ever accept. This begins a torrent of asinine plotting that defines every character. The rogue agents steal the money with no plan whatsoever. Everyone acts impulsively, then are somehow stunned by the consequences.
Honest Thief has lamentable action scenes that are also casualties of the script. Tom engages the baddies in multiple inexplicable firefights and car chases. They rain bullets on each other from close range, yet emerge unscathed. Firepower that shreds cars and buildings can somehow be stopped by couches and chairs. Also, none of these broad daylight encounters, in a huge metropolis, is witnessed or caught on camera by the real Feds. The action would have to be spectacular to overcome the absurdities. Willing suspension of disbelief can only go so far.
Liam Neeson is essentially collecting a paycheck here. His formidable stage presence is absent from this performance. He also has zero chemistry with Kate Walsh, a talented character actress. This is Honest Thief‘s biggest failure. Their relationship is the crux of the film. It feels contrived and unbelievable. Walsh gets a decent amount of screen time, but has little to do beyond the damsel in distress routine. Honest Thief is an action dud. It is a production of Zero Gravity Management and Ingenious Media. Honest Thief will have a major theatrical release, including IMAX screens, from Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment on October 16th.
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